Parents find expert to assess baby on life-support

An Alberta judge has given the parents of a brain-damaged infant more time to get his condition assessed by an independent expert before he is taken off life-support.
Rebecka May speaks to reporters outside the Edmonton courthouse Wednesday with her husband, Isaac, standing behind her. ((CBC))

An Alberta judge has given the parents of a brain-damaged baby more time so an independent medical expert can determine if he should be taken off life-support.

Dr. Richard Taylor, a pediatric specialist from Victoria, can do the assessment but he is not available until late February, the lawyer for Isaac and Rebecka May told Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice Michelle Crighton in Edmonton Wednesday.

The Mays' son, Isaiah, was born in Rocky Mountain House, Alta., in October and since then has been kept alive by a ventilator at Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital. A court order now prevents the hospital from removing him from life-support.

Outside the courthouse, Rebecka May said she is pleased her son will stay on the ventilator for now, but she isn't sure what the outcome of the assessment might be.

"We're happy that someone has come forward and offered to assess him, but we'll see what the report says," she said.

Isaac May said his son has been showing signs of improvement.

Isaiah May has been in the neonatal intensive care unit since he was transferred to the Stollery Childrens' Hospital in Edmonton after his birth in October. ((Submitted photo))
"Every time I hold him, he's non-stop moving, and he moves his head," he said. "He opens his eyes, his eyelids, a little bit and I mean, every little thing is an improvement, right?"

In Gimli, Man., Rebecka May's parents were relieved their grandson has been given more time for the assessment.

"Gives them time to bring some doctors in that are starting to show some interest in coming, and gives us time to allow him to just keep going, keep growing," Harry Andrews said.

"We just want Isaiah to have a chance to live. That's all we want. That's all we want out of this. That's all Becky and Isaac want out of this," said Cheryl Andrews.

Wednesday's decision is the latest step in a court battle between the Mays and doctors at the Stollery Hospital.

Doctors believe Isaiah May suffered irreversible brain damage at birth when the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, depriving him of oxygen. They planned to take the baby off the ventilator on Jan. 20. 

However, on Jan. 19, the Mays were successful in persuading the judge to give them more time to find an independent expert to assess the infant's condition.

The Mays and lawyers for Alberta Health Services and the physicians will return to court on Feb. 19 to give the judge an update.