Baby Joseph battles

The hospital involved in this sad story is representing itself as allowing the family’s wishes to take their child home to die there instead of in the stark atmosphere of the medical facility. And some news stories have reported that the parents are getting their wish, after all. Not exactly true…

Here’s the most thorough account at the moment.

…the hospital where Joseph is being kept said it is willing to send him home, but with an important catch: they still refuse to perform the tracheostomy that allowed a sibling of Joseph’s who had a similar condition to live another six months at home. Instead they will simply return Joseph home, and then remove his ventilator, after which he will almost certainly die within a matter of minutes…

Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, who has been working closely with the family, told LSN that this solution is unacceptable to them…

“They need to do a tracheostomy,” said Dr. Paul Byrne, an Ohio neonatologist with nearly five decades of experience and a former president of the Catholic Medical Association.  “If the baby is stable otherwise, and has a tracheostomy, then the baby can be taken care of at home.”…

Dr. Byrne called the attempt to have the state remove Joseph’s ventilator “terrible, absolutely terrible,” and insisted that in his fifty years in neonatology he’s never removed a child’s ventilator.  “I’ve never seen a time to turn off a ventilator,” he said.  “If a baby has a disease process that’s so bad that they’re going to die, then they die on the ventilator anyway.  So you don’t have to stop the ventilator.”

This is a very important clarification of the case and the issues involved.

He also criticized the common phrase “life support,” saying, “Life is either there or it’s not there. You don’t have to hold up the life.  What we do in medicine are actions … that support the vital activity of respiration.”

“Assuming doctors can do something to support the vital activities, we ought to do them,” he explained.  “And a tracheostomy ought to be done, and the baby ought to continue on the ventilator.”

Further clarification…

Though doctors have said Joseph is in a “vegetative state,” Dr. Byrne called it a “made-up term” similar to the notion of “brain death,” which he said was invented “simply to get beating hearts for transplantation.”

Even Joseph’s doctor in London has admitted that the tracheostomy could prolong his life.  “A tracheotomy would likely provide for a longer period of life, however, in our view would not result in improvement of well-being and could reduce quality of life,” Dr. Douglas Fraser told the Ontario Consent and Capacity Board in January.

Key phrases there, the baby’s “well-being” as seen “in our view,” that of hospital panels and government boards. That’s the scenario we’re all facing, increasingly, with health care rationing. The “quality of life” calculus doesn’t account for the sanctity of life.

Stop killing the disabled

I remember receiving a notice in March 2005, a warning written by a man in the Netherlands, that if America allows Terri Schiavo to die in the manner that was unfolding so dramatically at the time, Dutch euthanasia would soon come to this country and there would be no stopping it. It has happened more than even he may have foreseen.

There have been so many other Terris since then, and the tireless work her family puts into Terri’s Life & Hope Network is making a remarkable difference in saving individual lives, assisting families of vulnerable and impaired people, and at least doing their best to inform the public and especially the recalcitrant and sometimes delusional media.

The Italian Terri Schiavo was back in the news recently with the news that Eluana Englaro’s death by starvation and dehydration shocked enough Italian sensibilities to put forward an anti-euthanasia law before their Parliament.

Now, it’s Baby Joseph, the child in Canada whose life is threatened by the hour and hangs in the balance between the hospitals eager to pull life-support and the parents desperate to stop them. Here’s the latest as of this writing, and it’s not the least surprising that Terri’s brother Bobby Schindler is at the heart of it.

“The family wants to bring their baby home and they’re being denied,” he explained.  “That’s what our family – we were fighting for the same thing, really.  To bring Terri home and to care for her and show her the compassion that really only a family can do.”

In a statement, the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network said “it is unacceptable for Canadian Health Allocation Officials and/or the Canadian Government to make decisions for baby Joseph and his family.”

“Every patient, regardless of age, has a right to proper and dignified health care. It is frightening to once again see government usurp the God given rights of parents to love and care for their child at home,” it added.

Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition called this a human rights issue, and how could anyone claim it is not?

“This is an issue that goes to family, this is an issue about who decides at the end of life issues, and we clearly believe that should be with the family, with the parents,” he told LifeSiteNews.  “So we’re here to support them, we’re here to stand with them, and we’re here to encourage them.”

And help them get Baby Joseph into his family’s care, essentially.

Joseph suffers from a severe neurological disorder, but his specific condition remains undiagnosed.  Doctors have given him no chance of recovery, so his parents, Moe Maraachli and Sana Nader, have asked them to perform a tracheotomy which would enable him to breathe on his own, so that they could take him home.  The doctors have refused, saying the procedure is too risky.

Too risky for what? The child’s health and well-being? The child they’re trying to take off life support? They’re already intending to hasten his death. I saw his father on a television interview today. He said all they want to do is take Joseph home, so he can die peacefully there.  “He’s a human being,” his father emphasized, startled that he has to remind anyone of that. “I accept that he has a problem, but he has rights.” 

The clock is ticking for the family, however, as Joseph’s current hospital has asked Ontario’s Office of the Public Guardian to assume decision-making power after the family refused to have Joseph’s life support removed on Monday.  The public guardian could order it removed at any point.