Windsor

Baby Joseph likely to receive tracheotomy

A hospital in St. Louis, Mo., will likely perform a tracheotomy on Joseph Maraachli — the year-old Ontario baby at the centre of a right-to-life battle — by the end of the week, officials say.

Family moved Windsor baby to U.S. hospital after conflict over care in Ont.

A hospital in St. Louis, Mo., will likely perform a tracheotomy on Joseph Maraachli by the end of the week, it said Monday evening. (Courtest: Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Centre)

A hospital in St. Louis, Mo., will likely perform a tracheotomy on Joseph Maraachli — the year-old Ontario baby at the centre of a right-to-life battle — by the end of the week, officials say.

Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Centre (CGCMC) had planned a news conference for Tuesday, but cancelled it because a treatment plan for Joseph, who has an unidentified degenerative brain disease, is still in the works.

Doctors ran tests on Monday on the baby to provide his family with a second opinion on his prognosis. On Sunday, Joseph was moved to the U.S. faith-based hospital, from the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) in southwestern Ontario, where he had been since October. 

The baby's aunt, Faith Nader, said it's like the Windsor, Ont., family has awakened from a nightmare, and they hated the way Joseph was treated in London.

"I just need someone to wake me up and say, 'Yes! He's not in London anymore,'" said Nader. "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."

Ashley Weihle-Fram, a communications specialist for the St. Louis hospital, said: "At Cardinal Glennon we don't believe in turning any patient away."

Joseph's Canadian doctors had said his condition was deteriorating and determined he should be taken off assisted breathing. The boys' parents lost a court appeal in which they contended that Joseph would suffer a painful death if the tube were removed.

London hospital defends baby's care

Meanwhile, officials at LHSC are defending their doctors, saying the care baby Joseph received in London was "second to none anywhere in the world."

The London hospital refused to perform the tracheotomy, saying it could cause infection or pneumonia. They believe the baby won't recover, and say he was moved against medical advice.

But the medical team leader in St. Louis, Dr. Robert Wilmott, says a tracheotomy will allow Joseph to be moved to a skilled nursing facility. The surgical procedure involves creating an opening into the airway through an incision in the neck. The trache tube then help draw fluid out of the lungs, creates a safe and stable way to use a mechanical ventilator, and is more comfortable for the child, CGCMC said.

The baby was still breathing with the assistance of a ventilator on Monday evening, according to a statement from the Missouri hospital.

Priests for Life back Maraachlis

Meanwhile, the head of the group Priests for Life, Rev. Frank Pavone, said he has been told by physicians that they hope to be able to eventually send Joseph home. Pavone had accompanied Moe Maraachli, the baby's father, on the private flight from London to St. Louis.

Pavone's online blog on Tuesday described how he "rescued" Joseph in a "covert mission ... under the cover of darkness" from his Canadian hospital. His blog is linked to a YouTube video of Pavone sitting beside Moe Maraachli, while Maraachli thanks his U.S. supporters.

Priests for Life paid for the private jet to move the baby and is footing the bill for the medical bills and expenses for the family. 

Staff at LHSC have received a number of threats from "U.S.-based groups" related to Joseph's case, said a statement from the London hospital. LHSC officials are dealing with hospital lawyers and police, where necessary, they said.

The controversy over end-of-life care has been garnering a lot of international attention. CBC News was told the parents are going to be interviewed by CNN and People magazine.

With files from The Associated Press