LONDON, Ont. — The parents of a dying 13-month-old boy from Windsor, Ont., are said to be devastated after suffering yet another setback.
Joseph Maraachli’s family received word late Wednesday afternoon that the Children’s Hospital of Michigan has decided not to request the transfer of the baby from a London, Ont., hospital.
“Joseph’s parents are devastated by the news that the Michigan Children’s Hospital will not accept Joseph,” their lawyer Mark Handleman said in an email to The Canadian Press Wednesday night.
Moe Maraachli hoped to transfer his son to the U.S. hospital after waging a months-long battle to stop doctors at London’s Victoria Hospital from taking the baby off a ventilator.
Alex Schadenberg, the executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said he was with Joseph’s father when he got the news.
“Moe’s first comment was, ’I don’t know how I’m going to say this to my wife’,” said Schadenberg, who has been working with the couple for a month on their case.
Maraachli had asked doctors to perform a tracheotomy so Joseph, whom doctors say is in a vegetative state with no hope of recovery, could return home to Windsor to spend his final days surrounded by family. But the doctors refused, saying it’s not in the boy’s best interests.
Maraachli and his wife, Sana Nader, lost their appeal before an Ontario Superior Court judge last week to stop the removal of Joseph’s breathing tube.
Justice Helen Rady upheld an earlier decision by the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario, an independent body, which ruled that Joseph’s parents must consent to the tube’s removal.
However, the family stood their ground and refused consent Monday morning and said they wanted to move Joseph to the Detroit hospital, where he had been previously treated.
Handelman said he hopes there’s still an opportunity to get Joseph home so he can die surrounded by loved ones.
“Joseph is still alive so there is still hope,” he said.
Earlier this week, the London Health Sciences Centre took its next legal step, and asked Ontario’s Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee for its consent to remove the baby from life support after failing to get consent from his parents and other family members.
The hospital planned to hold off taking further action until doctors in Detroit examined the boy’s chart to decide whether they would accept Joseph as a patient.
Wednesday night in an email, the hospital declined to say what its next step would be.
“Our focus at this time is supporting the family by providing compassionate and dignified care, and comfort to both the patient and his parents,” the hospital said.
Maraachli has said the hospital has not been giving the couple privacy with their son, and that a security guard is watching their every move while they are with the baby.
The family now is considering its options, including appealing Rady’s decision to the Court of Appeal,“ Handelman said.
London doctors recommended Joseph be removed from life support in November because they say he won’t recover from rare neurological condition. He is fed through a feeding tube.
The family fears Joseph will suffer a painful choking death if the ventilator is removed.
A Facebook page called Save Baby Joseph had grown to more than 8,500 members by Wednesday night. Most offered prayers and messages of support in their postings to the site.