Baby Joseph Maraachli Heading Home After Getting Tracheotomy

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 21, 2011   |   10:30AM   |   Washington, DC

Baby Joseph Maraachli is heading back home to Canada after his parents received help from an American pro-life group that assisted when a Canadian hospital refused to provide the baby a tracheotomy to help him breathe.

Joseph’s parents wanted him to have the medical procedure done in the same way their daughter had one before she passed away. Joseph now can breathe easier as he dies from a rare medical condition that will soon take his life.

Doctors at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis performed the tracheotomy on March 21 and, in a follow-up statement, deemed the procedure “medically appropriate” after a thorough examination of the 15-month-old boy who a Canadian hospital refused to help.

Today, officials with Priests for Life, the pro-life group that provided the financial and logistical support for bringing Joseph and his family to the United States, informed Joseph is now headed home.

“Our mission to save Baby Joseph and help his family was never based on any prediction of the future, but rather on the value of his life here and now,” Priests for Life director Father Frank Pavone said. “Our critics, on the other hand, looking into the crystal ball that ‘right to die’ advocates seem to always think they have, claimed our intervention was futile because Joseph would only end up having a machine do his breathing for him.

“We don’t have to answer their criticism; Joseph is doing that for us, with every breath he takes. He has gained benefit from his tracheotomy, is breathing on his own, and is going home to live with his parents, who will love and care for him for as much time as God gives them together,” Pavone continued. “Baby Joseph’s victory over the culture of death is especially powerful now, as we prepare for Easter, a time when Christians everywhere celebrate Jesus’ victory over death.

Brother Paul O’Donnell was active in helping Joseph and his family and he told Joseph will be transported back home to Windsor, Canada. Once he arrives in Canada he will be checked by medical professionals and then taken to his family’s home.

“I was privileged to be one of the first American supporters of Baby Joseph and the Maraachli family. We assembled a team of pro-life and anti-euthanasia leaders and mounted a grass roots campaign to have Baby Joseph transferred to a hospital in the U.S,” O’Donnell recalled. “Baby Joseph remains a sick little boy and his time on earth may indeed be short. However, when he eventually dies, it will be God who decides when and not the courts and doctors. Now this little one will have precious time with his family, surrounded by love.”

Shortly after the procedure, Joseph was baptized and his parents said they were pleased with the developments.

Moe Maraachli, Joseph’s father, commented:  “It’s a miracle.  My son now has freedom.  I’m very happy.  My wife and I will respect the second opinion from the hospital in St. Louis.  We will accept it with all my heart because Joseph got his human right to get a chance to get a second opinion.  When God wants to take his life He’ll take it and nobody can say ‘No’ to God.”

In new comments to LifeNews.cmo today, Pavone added, “Baby Joseph’s victory over the culture of death is especially powerful now, as we prepare for Easter, a time when Christians everywhere celebrate Jesus’ victory over death.”

“I want to commend the fine, caring staff at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center for their professional excellence and their faith.  Likewise I want to thank the team at Kalitta MedFlight in Michigan, who donated the air ambulance and crew to fly Baby Joseph from Ontario to St. Louis last month, and who are flying him home today. Thanks also to the many groups and countless individuals who stepped forward, spoke up, donated, and helped to intervene for this child,” he said. “Priests for Life is happy and humbled to have played a small part in making this joyous day possible. We ask everyone to join us as we continue to pray for Baby Joseph and his family.”

Joseph suffers from Leigh Syndrome, a rare genetic neurometabolic disorder. Leigh’s disease, also known as Subacute Necrotizing Encephalomyelopathy (SNEM), is a rare neurometabolic disorder that affects the central nervous system and it is named for Denis Archibald Leigh, a British psychiatrist who first described the condition in 1951.

The condition typically affects infants between the age of three months and two years and mutations in the mitochondrial DNA or the nuclear DNA cause degradation of motor skills and eventually death. Crucial cells in the brain stem have mutated mtDNA and this causes a chronic lack of energy in the cells which adversely affects the  central nervous system and inhibits motor functions. There is currently no cure for the disease and infants like Joseph rarely live longer than two or three years after the onset of the disease.

Pavone said the medical costs for the family are building up and could reach as much as between $100,000-$150,000 as a grand total.