Coma Tot Moved to Catholic Hospital to Extend Life

Catholic group 'rescues' boy at center of Canada right-to-life debate
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2011 2:24 AM CDT
In this photo provided by Priests for Life, 13-month-old Joseph Maraachli rests in a bed at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center with his dad Moe Maraachli, right, and Father Frank Pavone, left.   (AP Photo/Priests for Life)

(Newser) – A Canadian baby at the center of a right-to-life debate has been moved to an American hospital with the help of an activist Catholic priest. Tiny 1-year-old Joseph Maraachli is in a vegetative state and doctors say he has no hope of recovery. A Canada court ruled that doctors could remove the breathing tube keeping him alive but his parents challenged the diagnosis and did not consent. They asked a Canadian hospital to perform a tracheotomy to prolong his life by six months and allow him to die at home, but the request was denied. Joseph is now at a Catholic hospital in St. Louis that has agreed to perform the procedure, the Toronto Sun reports.

Rev. Frank Pavone of the pro-life Priests for Life group says the boy was "rescued' in a "covert mission under the cover of darkness," although the family's lawyer says the Canadian hospital responded promptly to their discharge request. Hospital officials say the transfer was approved "despite the strongest medical advice to the contrary." Joseph's parents, who argued that removing the ventilator tube would cause the baby to choke painfully to death, lost another child to the same neurodegenerative disease eight years ago, the Globe and Mail reports.

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