ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - A Canadian baby on the brink of death was being evaluated by doctors in St. Louis on Tuesday after he was refused treatment in Ontario and airlifted to the U.S., officials said on Tuesday.
The baby, 13-month-old Joseph Maraachli, was brought to Missouri by his father and Frank Pavone of the New York-based Priests for Life and taken to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center for evaluation and possible treatment.
The baby suffers from a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is fatal, according doctors in Canada.
Doctors at the hospital in London, Ontario, said efforts to save the baby’s life were futile. The hospital said in a statement its staff recommended sending the baby home “on a breathing machine, and then placing him in the arms of his family before withdrawing the machine.”
The hospital, the London Health Sciences Center, said it allowed the transfer of the child “despite the strongest possible medical advice to the contrary.”
Baby Joseph “needs to be in a hospital that cherishes life over the bottom line. After around-the-clock negotiations, this really became a race against time,” Pavone said.
Several other U.S. hospitals declined to treat the child.
The child’s parents had urged the Canadian doctors to perform a tracheotomy, a hole cut into the throat, on their son. The Canadian hospital said the invasive procedure was not appropriate in Joseph’s case. He had been in the London hospital since October where he was connected to breathing machines and a feeding tube.
Cardinal Glennon chief of pediatrics, Dr. Robert Wilmott, said Joseph likely will have the procedure performed by the end of this week to facilitate his transition to a skilled nursing facility.
“If there is a chance this boy can live, we have to explore every option,” Pavone said.
Pavone was involved in the controversial case of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman who went into a coma after a cardiac arrest. Schiavo’s parents were opposed to her husband’s efforts to disconnect her feeding tube and allow her to die.
The husband ultimately prevailed in court, and Terri Schiavo died in 2005. Pavone was an advocate on behalf of Schiavo’s parents and was at her bedside as she was dying, according to the Priests for Life web site.
The baby’s aunt, Faith Nader, told CBC News that the Windsor, Ontario, family hated the way Joseph was treated in London.
“We all hated it so much. It was the way they were treating him. It was so, so horrible. So we just wanted our right to life. We just wanted him out of there,” she said.
Priests for Life said it paid for the private jet that took the child to the U.S. and also would pay medical bills and expenses for the family.
Writing by Bruce Olson; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Greg McCune