Baby Joseph: Living or Dead
The saga of Baby Joseph has been a nailbiter for many who have followed his story. Joseph Maraachli is a 14-month old who is considered by many doctors to be in a "vegetative state." He is stricken with a neurological disorder called Leigh's Syndrome which usually affects infants and young toddlers. The condition has an extremely poor outcome and most victims die within a year of diagnosis from decreased organ function or the complications of seizures. But not all. Some children with Leigh Syndrome far outlive their dire prognosis. Whether or not this would be the story for Baby Joseph, no one knows, but his parents believe it's worth a shot.
Joseph's doctors at his Ontario, Canada hospital felt that he had no chance of recovery so they decided to remove him from his assisted breathing equipment. Joseph's parents disagreed, but they had no power to resist the decision of the doctors to allow Joseph to suffocate to death. The Maraachlis sued to stop the doctors' actions but they lost in the Canadian courts. Joseph's parents then put out an urgent plea via social media sites for help. They wanted to bring Joseph to America to receive treatment.
Joseph and his family took a trip to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, which was funded by Rev. Frank Pavone's "Priests for Life." Joseph was given the necessary life-saving procedures, and improved sufficiently to return to his home in Windsor after a few months. The tale of Baby Joseph has been a real-time life or death drama. And when an innocent baby hangs in the balance, most of us support the side of life.
There are a number of cultural, social, and political issues that are raised by this story. It becomes apparent that Canada's government-run health care system rations services. Any patient not meeting certain criteria for recovery may be denied treatment, even as they fight for their lives. The Maraachlis chose America as the only hope for Joseph to receive treatment. America's health care is only partially socialized and doctors rarely deny treatment to even the most gravely ill patients. America is a compassionate country. The Maraachlis caught the attention of Americans not through some intellectual argument about Joseph's quality of life. But they grabbed us in that place where children are precious and we always give life a chance no matter the cost, our hearts.Continued on the next page