Baby Joseph Defies His Critics and Ours

Child, free from tubes and machines, is able to return home with family.

New York, NY — Baby Joseph Maraachli, the Canadian child whom Priests for Life brought to the United States for medical treatment, is going back home. His tracheotomy and subsequent medical care have made it possible for him to breathe on his own, without the assistance of machines. Fr. Pavone issued the following statement:

“Our mission to save Baby Joseph and help his family was never based on any prediction of the future, but rather on the value of his life here and now.

Our critics, on the other hand, looking into the crystal ball that ‘right to die’ advocates seem to always think they have, claimed our intervention was futile because Joseph would only end up having a machine do his breathing for him.

“We don’t have to answer their criticism; Joseph is doing that for us, with every breath he takes. He has gained benefit from his tracheotomy, is breathing on his own, and is going home to live with his parents, who will love and care for him for as much time as God gives them together.

“Baby Joseph’s victory over the culture of death is especially powerful now, as we prepare for Easter, a time when Christians everywhere celebrate Jesus’ victory over death.

“I want to commend the fine, caring staff at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center for their professional excellence and their faith. Likewise I want to thank the team at Kalitta MedFlight in Michigan, who donated the air ambulance and crew to fly Baby Joseph from Ontario to St. Louis last month, and who are flying him home today. Thanks also to the many groups and countless individuals who stepped forward, spoke up, donated, and helped to intervene for this child.

“Priests for Life is happy and humbled to have played a small part in making this joyous day possible. We ask everyone to join us as we continue to pray for Baby Joseph and his family.”

Priests for Life is covering Baby Joseph’s medical expenses, and has set up a fund for that purpose. Go to BabyJosephCentral.com to donate and to stay updated on related stories.

What a Great Way to Celebrate Easter!

Father Pavone was interviewed this morning on Fox News as Baby Joseph Maraachli was flown home to Canada.

The 15-month-old was transferred from a hospital in London, Ontario, last month because doctors there ruled that to continue to treat his neurological disease was futile, and courts agreed. Plans were in the works to disconnect the breathing tube that was helping him breathe, and to let him die.

Just over a month later, the boy has received the tracheotomy his parents sought and is breathing on his own.

“We knew when he was in Canada…he was mostly breathing on his own,” Father Pavone told Fox News’ Gretchen Carlson this morning. He said the tracheotomy that ultimately was performed at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis “was not extraordinary treatment,’ and had “a high probability of success.”

Father Pavone, who has remained in close contact with Baby Joseph’s parents, Moe and Sana Maraachli, said the parents are excited to be bringing the baby home.

“This is all they wanted,” he said, “to be able to bring him home and care for him for as much time as God gives them together.”

Father Pavone said the family’s tenacity should help empower other families to battle medical bureaucracies, and should encourage pro-life efforts on every front.

“This case should help families to stand up and fight hard,” he said. To pro-lifers, he said, “stay engaged in the pro-life effort because we have more victories to win.”

Baby Joseph, the child of a Muslim father and Catholic mother, was baptized Catholic last month. His transfer home took place on Holy Thursday, just three days before Christians celebrate Jesus’ victory over death.

“Today’s outcome is better than expected,’ Father Pavone said. “What a great way to celebrate Easter.”

Statement from Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center

Joseph Maraachli and his family flew back to Canada on Thursday, April 21, after the infant with a progressive neurological disease received a tracheotomy on March 21st at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis, MO.

Joseph responded well to the tracheotomy, a procedure that provides him with increased mobility and comfort while providing a stable, secure airway. The tracheotomy also keeps his lower airway free from secretions and protects his lungs from inhaled saliva or other material that could cause aspiration pneumonia.

The tracheotomy, which creates an opening into Joseph’s windpipe through an incision in his neck, was a success, says Dr. Robert Wilmott, Chief of Pediatrics for SSM Cardinal Glennon and Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

“Joseph has been breathing on his own, without the aid of a mechanical ventilator, for more than a week,” Wilmott said. “By providing him with this common palliative procedure, we’ve given Joseph the chance to go home and be with his family after spending so much of his young life in the hospital.”

Joseph, his parents and 7-year-old brother spent more than a month in St. Louis. The family was ready to return to Canada but will always cherish memories of the people they met while in St. Louis, said Moe Maraachli, Joseph’s father.

“So many people from the United States and Canada and all around the world have reached out, sent letters and called my family to let us know they were praying for us and thinking about us,” Moe Maraachli said. “This has really helped our family through this hard time, to know there is so much kindness in the world.

“We are so grateful for the amazing care and compassion we have received from the doctors, nurses and staff of Cardinal Glennon. Our family also wants to thank the team at Windsor Regional Hospital for reaching out to our family and Dr. Wilmott and making the transfer back home a reality.”

Doctors initially expected to transition Joseph to a local rehabilitation hospital, but he responded so well to the tracheotomy that he was discharged directly home to Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Joseph will transition home with the assistance of Windsor Regional Hospital in Ontario.

“I want to commend the Windsor Regional Hospital team for reaching out to the Maraachli family in early March to start planning for the arrival of Joseph back to Windsor,” stated David Musyj, President and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital.

“The Maraachli family, Dr. Wilmott and his team at the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center have been very helpful in keeping Windsor Regional Hospital up to date on Joseph’s clinical condition and coordinating the clinical needs, wishes and plans for Joseph’s return home.”

Both SSM Cardinal Glennon and Windsor Regional Hospital continue to send prayers and positive thoughts to the Maraachli family in the next phase of their journey.

Baby Joseph Now Home: Lessons to Learn

New York, NY – Fr. Frank Pavone, who traveled with Baby Joseph from Canada to St. Louis last month, issued this statement this morning:

“Baby Joseph’s journey, from the prison of the Canadian hospital to the faith-filled treatment he received in St. Louis, has now brought him to the safety and comfort of his own home, with his loving parents and older brother, in Windsor, Ontario.

“There is no ‘life support’ or ventilator needed for Baby Joseph. From a medical perspective, we did not have any pre-conceived outcome in our mind, nor do we know how long his life will be. What we do know is that there are several key lessons to draw from this story:

a) Doctors do not always know best. Day by day, situations turn out better than many doctors predict. The desires of the patient and the family need to be honored above any kind of medical dictatorships. Some were saying that nothing should be done for Baby Joseph, because he would be attached to machines for the rest of his life, but today, he is breathing on his own.

b) Families need to fight to care for their loved ones. Moe Maraachli and his wife Sana are strong in their faith and in their love for their children. They did not let the death of a previous child bring them to despair about this one. Rather, they fought hard for Joseph to get the care that has now helped him.

c) The meaning and value of life does not come from medical tribunals or courts, and it is not measured in years, months, or days. It is measured by giving and receiving love, first from God and then from each other.

d) When people band together for the cause of life, victories can be won. So many people sent e-mails, prayed, and are helping pay for Baby Joseph’s care (see BabyJosephCentral.com). We need to stay engaged in the pro-life cause, because there are many more victories to win.

“We thank everyone who has helped and will continue to help with this case and others like it. As Moe Maraachli has said, we did not do this only for Baby Joseph, but for all the other Baby Josephs to come.”

To assist in the payment of Baby Joseph’s medical care, and to stay updated on this story, visit: babyjosephcentral.com

The Pope’s Bioethics Council

At the end of February I was privileged to be welcomed at the Vatican as a new member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Established in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, this body has “the specific task to study and provide information and training about the principal problems of law and biomedicine pertaining to the promotion and protection of life, especially in the direct relationship they have with Christian morality.”

In our General Assembly meeting this year, we addressed in depth the theme of post-abortion healing. Two other members of our Priests for Life team were also invited: Janet Morana, co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, and Dr. Theresa Burke, who founded Rachel’s Vineyard.

The group met with Pope Benedict, who said in his address, “It is necessary to provide the necessary help to women who sadly have already taken recourse to abortion, and who now experience all its moral and existential tragedy. There are many initiatives, at the diocesan level or through individual volunteer entities, which offer psychological and spiritual support for a complete human recovery. The solidarity of the Christian community cannot give up this type of co-responsibility.”

He also had strong words about the responsibilities of doctors:

“Doctors cannot fail to defend against the deception of the conscience of many women who think they will find in abortion the solution to family, economic, social difficulties or to the problems of health of their children. Especially in this last situation, the woman is convinced, often by the doctors themselves, that abortion represents not only a licit moral choice, but that in addition it is a necessary “therapeutic” act”.

He also said doctors are to “Continue affirming that abortion does not resolve anything, but that it kills the child, destroys the woman and blinds the conscience of the child’s father, often ruining family life.”

The Pope expanded on the idea of fathers by saying:

“It would be useful to focus attention on the fathers of the children, who often abandon pregnant women. It is the duty of the moral conscience to discern good from evil in the different situations of existence.”

While men can’t have abortions, they do commit the sin of abortion. The “abandonment” of which the Pope speaks often consists in the man saying it is the woman’s choice. This makes her feel alone and desperate, and increases the temptation to abort. The man, instead, is called to stand with the woman and the baby and say, “we can do the right thing.”

Finally, the Pope reminded us all that “It is necessary that the whole of society defend the right to life of the conceived and the true good of the woman, who never, under any circumstance, will be fulfilled in the choice of abortion.”

As one of many entities of the Vatican – essentially a bioethics council for the Pope and the Church — the Academy for Life represents a key concern of the Church. You can follow its activities and publications at www.AcademiaVita.org.

A Dangerous Mentality

Next week marks the anniversary of the murder of Terri Schiavo. She was deprived of food and water, as police officers stood over her bed to make sure nobody gave her any. She did not have any terminal disease and was not on life support. Her loving parents and siblings were ready to care for her for the rest of their lives. Yet through the actions of her estranged husband and the erroneous decisions of the courts, she was killed anyway. It is perfectly logical and moral to forego useless treatments, but that’s not what Terri’s case was all about. In this case, it was not that treatments were considered useless – it was that a life was considered useless, and that type of judgment is dangerous to us all.

Statement from SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center Regarding Baby Joseph

Contact: SSM Cardinal Glennon Public Relations office, 314-577-5615

“SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center has met the needs of children and families with great compassion for more than 50 years. In the case of Joseph Maraachli, we agreed to take the baby into our care to provide a medical consultation. Baby Joseph has Leigh Syndrome, a progressive neurologic disease.

“Following a thorough examination by a multi-disciplinary medical team of specialists from SSM Cardinal Glennon and Saint Louis University School of Medicine, along with extensive consultations with Joseph’s parents and the SSM Cardinal Glennon ethics committee, we concluded that a tracheotomy was medically appropriate.

“Baby Joseph received a tracheotomy on Monday. He is currently in the pediatric intensive care unit, where tracheotomy patients routinely spend 7 to 10 days following the procedure. After he is discharged from SSM Cardinal Glennon, Joseph will travel to Ranken Jordan – A Pediatric Specialty Hospital in St. Louis before being transported to his family home in Windsor.

“It is our hope that this procedure will allow Joseph and his family the gift of a few more months together and that Joseph may be more comfortable with a permanent tracheotomy.

“As with any of the children we help, our primary focus must remain on the patient and what is best in his or her individual circumstances.

“We ask that you keep Baby Joseph and his family in your prayers.”

Baby Joseph’s Condition

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, issued the following statement today after Baby Joseph Maraachli’s successful surgery at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.

“Yesterday was a big day for Baby Joseph and his family, as the baby received a tracheotomy. Ordinary medical treatments are those which provide a reasonable hope of benefit without an excessive burden. Baby Joseph received yesterday a wonderful benefit, through the love of his parents and the professional care of the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.

“We at Priests for Life continue to challenge those in our society – whether medical professionals, government officials, or anyone else – to stop putting a price tag on human life. The idea that some lives are not worth living belongs to a past age of worn-out philosophies leading to massive holocausts which deserve to be bad memories on the ash heap of history, not threatening clouds on its horizon,” Fr. Pavone concluded.

Click here for a statement from the Medical Center.

Click here for photos of Baby Joseph after surgery.