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ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - A Canadian baby on the brink of death was given a tracheotomy on Monday at a St. Louis hospital to improve his breathing after a Canadian hospital declined to give him further treatment to extend his life.
The baby's parents had Joseph Maraachli, age 13 months, airlifted to Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in Missouri a week ago to continue treatments not recommended by other hospitals in Canada and the United States.
Joseph suffers from Leigh Syndrome, a terminal progressive neurologic disease. The Canada hospital recommended returning him home on a breathing machine and "placing him in the arms of his family before withdrawing the machine."
The tracheotomy was performed after an examination by doctors from Cardinal Glennon and the St. Louis University School of Medicine.
"It is our hope that this procedure will allow Joseph and his family the gift of a few more months together and that Joseph may be more comfortable," said Dr. Robert Wilmott, chief of pediatrics at the Glennon medical center.
Tracheotomy patients routinely spend 7 to 10 days in pediatric intensive care after a tracheotomy. He is expected to be transferred to another pediatric facility in St. Louis, before returning to Windsor, Canada.
The boy's parents were present for the procedure but neither had an immediate comment.
The London Health Sciences Center in London, Ontario, said it allowed Joseph's transfer to St. Louis "despite the strongest possible medical advice to the contrary."
Father Frank Pavone and the New York-based anti-abortion organization Priests for Life arranged the transfer of Joseph to the Missouri hospital and raised money for his treatments.
Pavone was an advocate for the parents of Terri Schiavo who fell into a coma after a cardiac arrest, according to the Priests for Life website. Schiavo's parents opposed her husband's efforts to disconnect a feeding tube and allow her to die leading to a prolonged legal battle.
Editing by David Bailey and Greg McCune