An Ontario couple is embroiled in a dilemma over the future of their 13 month old son – he doesn’t have one. Joseph Maraachli suffers from the same neurodegenerative disease that laid waste to his sister eight years earlier and the London Health Sciences Centre has asked his parents to let their doctors stop prolonging the inevitable. The parents are fighting against the court order that would allow the hospital to make that call and remove the life support systems. The parents think if the hospital will just give the boy a tracheotomy they can bring him home and pray for a miracle. A Life Site News article reports on the upcoming prayer vigils and the American Christian groups that are rallying around the family:
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, traveled to Canada last week with Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo. The two met and prayed with the family, pledged their support, and sought to connect them to legal assistance and to help to locate a hospital for Joseph in America.
“We are gathering for prayer and public witness as we stand in solidarity with Baby Joseph and his family,” said Rev. Mahoney. “We will not be silent when it comes to this tragic crushing of human rights. … We must always speak out with passion and courage when we see the dignity of human life trampled.”
What’s dignified about leaving a kid that young hooked up to machines that are incapable of fixing him? What’s dignified about making a media storm around this family and their son’s last days? Why will we put a sick dog down and say it’s a mercy yet be so reluctant to let nature take its course with our children, or our parents, or anyone else for that matter? When the field of medicine reaches the limit of what it can do to save a person’s life, why can’t we just accept that and let go? Wouldn’t that be more dignified than leaving someone hooked up to waste away slowly and painfully? Why create more memories of suffering just for a few more weeks of limbo?
Anne Jarvis at the Windsor Star writes more about the Ontario’s Consent and Capacity Board and decisions that need to be made here.
Respect for human life, the board states in a compelling argument, isn’t only about prolonging it. It’s also about meaning and dignity. Life should not be prolonged “at any cost,” it states, citing a decision in a similar case in England. A patient like Joseph “remains a person,” and “there must be something more for the humanity of the person.” The patient, no matter the condition, “has the right to be respected.”
Even after the tracheotomy, caring for a patient like Joseph requires constant and extensive handling and manipulation of the body, the board said, citing another case in the U.S. “When cherished values of human dignity and personal privacy, which belong to every person living or dying, are sufficiently transgressed by what is being done to the individual, we should be ready to say: enough.”
At current count Facebook’s Save baby Joseph group sits at 13,400 members offering up thoughts and comments like these:
I don’t want to test anyone, let alone God, but for some reason, I have a deep faith that there’s going to be a miracle and this little boy is going to be saved. I just don’t know how I feel it but I do…! I’m just hoping my feeling is right!
I find it truly sad that someone is actually making up FB accounts to try and dishearten and defeat us by doing the devil’s work But the thing about Satan is, he never wins and he never will win.
It is very disgusting to think about the reason why LHSC refuses to perform tracheotomy..because it is fatal…meaning it would be a waste of time, effort and finances…? wow. what a world we live in. W need more compassionate doctors.
The last quote seems to be misquoting the LHSC’s write-up about this case:
LHSC will not perform a tracheostomy on Baby Joseph because it is not a palliative procedure. It is an invasive procedure in which a device is installed in a hole cut in the throat. It is frequently indicated for patients who require a long term breathing machine. This is not indicated for Baby Joseph because he has a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is fatal.
They aren’t baby killers. The kid is going to die of this no matter what people do, either in the hospital or at home. The doctors are trying to do what’s best for this kid in this situation and the parents are getting in the way. Their suffering matters, too, and I’d say these doctors are compassionate enough to want that to stop just as much as they want Joseph’s suffering to stop. I think that’s the smart move.
My heart goes out to everyone involved here and all the choices that weigh heavily on them.