Canada boy, treated in U.S. after hospital refuses, dies

Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:03pm EDT
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By Bruce Olson

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - A 20-month-old Canadian boy with an incurable neurological disorder whose life was extended in the United States after a Canadian hospital declined further treatment, has died at his Ontario home, a family spokesman said on Wednesday.

The plight of the boy, known as Baby Joseph, drew attention in both countries, where end-of-life issues including abortion and euthanasia have stirred passions and political activism.

A Canadian hospital where the boy, Joseph Maraachli, had been treated, as well as several U.S. hospitals, refused further treatment of the child and had recommended allowing him to die at home.

Baby Joseph, who suffered from Leigh's disease, was brought to Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis by his father and Frank Pavone of the New York-based anti-abortion organization Priests for Life.

While in the U.S. hospital, the boy was given a tracheotomy to allow easier breathing and sent back to his home in Windsor, Canada, where he died on Tuesday evening.

"He passed away peacefully at home with his parents and family at his side. Praise God he had seven precious months with his family to be surrounded by love and was not put to death at the hands of doctors," family spokesman Brother Paul O'Donnell said in a Facebook posting.

"We want to thank God and everyone else for the support. I don't think he would have made it that long if there weren't those prayers from all over the world," Maraachli's aunt, Faith Nader, told Canadian television.

Doctors at the London Health Sciences Center hospital in London, Ontario, had recommended sending the baby home in March but allowed the transfer of the child to St. Louis "despite the strongest possible medical advice to the contrary."   Continued...