Parents fight to bring baby home to die
Court asked to overrule doctors’ plan
The parents of a dying baby are taking doctors in Ontario to court in hopes their little boy will be able to spend his last days at home, surrounded by family.
One-year-old Joseph Maraachli has been at the Victoria Hospital in London, Ont., since mid-October, suffering from a “severe and progressively deteriorating neurological state,” according to medical reports.
Joseph’s brain is losing function, his reflexes and responses to stimulation are abnormal, and he can’t breathe on his own or swallow. Over the past three months, he’s been examined by various specialists, including pediatric neurologists who ordered a battery of tests, including MRIs and brain scans.
The doctors have concluded that Joseph has no prospect of recovery and will only continue to deteriorate. A decision was made to remove his breathing tube, which is keeping his airway clear of fluids and secretions on which he would otherwise choke.
But Joseph’s parents, Sana and Moe Maraachli of Windsor, Ont., are refusing to let him die at the hospital.
They say they want doctors to perform a tracheotomy — a surgical procedure to open a direct airway through an incision in the trachea — and let them take Joseph home.
Once the breathing tube is removed, the baby “is going to die from the secretions because he can’t clear his airway,” said his mother, Sana. “He will die choking violently.
“We want him to die peacefully.”
Eight years ago, the Maraachlis were struck by another tragedy, when their daughter died from similar complications. Doctors performed a tracheotomy on her, and the devastated parents don’t understand why the same can’t be done for Joseph.
The Maraachlis have retained a lawyer and gone before the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario, an independent body created by the provincial government to deal with matters under the Health Care Consent Act and other legislation.
Following a hearing last week, the board sided with the doctors. Joseph’s breathing tube was scheduled to be removed at 10 a.m. today.
But a last-minute approval from legal aid allowed the couple’s lawyer, Geoff Snow, to file an appeal Thursday that will buy the family some more time. The case will now go before Ontario Superior Court.
“You have a child who is going to die from this condition and you have his parents who want a procedure done that will allow them to take the child home and care for him themselves versus doctors who have a range of concerns,” Snow said.
“It’s a debate over who’s right about his best interests — the parents or the board and the doctors.”
Snow said the Maraachlis deserve a fighting chance to fulfil their wishes for their child.