EDMONTON — Surrounded by family, a brain-injured baby died in the arms of his loving parents in an Edmonton hospital after they had spent months trying everything in their power to keep him alive.
Rebecka and Isaac May went to court in January seeking to prevent doctors from unhooking their son Isaiah from a ventilator until they could get a second independent medical opinion. When those experts told them there was no hope their boy would ever recover, they made a decision no parent should ever face.
The five-month-old boy died shortly after noon Thursday, only hours after his young parents were to appear in court again about the independent medical review of his condition. The hearing was cancelled.
“Isaiah has been a blessing to us and his spirit will always be in our hearts,” the parents said in a statement read by their lawyer, Rosanna Saccomani.
“We will never forget the miracle of his birth, the Christmas we spent together and the early spring day when we said our goodbyes. We will always cherish our son and the gift of time with him.
“We have set our tiny miracle free and he is now home in the arms of angels.”
Isaiah was born in a hospital in Rocky Mountain House last October with severe brain damage after his umbilical cord got wrapped around his throat, which deprived him of oxygen.
Doctors at Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital were planning to disconnect Isaiah from a ventilator on Jan. 20, but his parents persuaded a judge to give them time to get a second opinion.
Dr. Richard Taylor, a neonatologist from Victoria General Hospital, examined Isaiah in February.
Taylor determined that the boy could move his limbs and had gained weight, but he also found no brain reflexes and that the boy could not breathe on his own.
At one point the doctor showed the parents an MRI of their son and an MRI of a healthy infant.
“I advised Rebecka and Isaac that I was certain that Isaiah would never recover and that his body movements were likely due to activity in his spinal cord,” Taylor said in a statement.
“He would remain ventilator dependent for the duration of his life. As Isaiah would never recover, we agreed that this degree of life support was no longer appropriate.”
The parents, who are both in their early 20s, thanked Taylor and the staff at Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital for their help.
They also paid tribute to thousands of people across Canada and around the world who rallied behind them on social networking sites such as Facebook. Some right-to-life and religious groups in Canada and the United States also expressed their support.
The parents said the outpouring gave them strength in court and when they visited their son each day in hospital.
They were surrounded by aunts, uncles and grandparents as Isaiah took his last breath.
“Thank you to all who have listened to our story and supported our family,” the couple said in their statement.
“The expressions of love and compassion for our son received from thousands of people around the world helped sustain us in our darkest hours.”
Alberta Health Services initially tried to limit the time the Mays were requesting to seek a second medical opinion on Isaiah but then worked closely with the family to make it happen.
The organization expressed its condolences to the family.
“Physicians and staff who have been involved in caring for baby Isaiah were touched by the May family’s strength. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family.”
Plans for Isaiah’s funeral were pending.