Thursday, February 17, 2011

Windsor couple's appeal dismissed to bring baby home

An article by Sonja Puzic in the Windsor Star announced that the Ontario Superior court has decided that the breathing tube that is keeping 13 month old Joseph Maraachli alive will be removed on Monday, February 21; against the wishes of his family.

The case is not about the right to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment. Link to my previous article.

Victoria Hospital (London Health Sciences Centre) and the family agree that Joseph is dying. The family wants a tracheotomy to be done to allow Joseph to be brought home where he would die in the care of his family.

We must be clear, this is not a case of euthanasia but rather a case of who has the right to decide to make end-of-life decisions.

I really can't understand why the court denied the family the opportunity to bring their child home to allow him to die in their care. I also can't understand why Victoria Hospital in London Ontario would be so heartless as to force this family, who are grieving, to go through the emotional and financial stress of going through the courts in order to be allowed to take their terminally ill child home to die in their arms?

I can't understand how the court would think that "justice" has been done, when a hospital has employed a high priced legal team to fight against a family who are relying on legal aid to defend their rights. This is not only a case of David vs Goliath, but in this case, the court is the second Goliath.

Finally, the decision may have been acceptable, if the Judge had decided that, if another physician was willing to do the tracheotomy, that then it should be done. The reality is that you cannot force a doctor to do a tracheotomy against their conscience.

Once again, if it becomes accepted that decisions by a hospital or medical team supersede that of the power of attorney, then everyone needs to be concerned.

The article stated:

Baby's breathing tube to be removed Monday

A Superior Court judge in London has dismissed a Windsor couple’s appeal of a decision to have their dying baby’s breathing tube removed in hospital instead of allowing the child to spend his last days at home.

Moe Maraachli and Sana Nader took their battle with London doctors to court in hopes their one-year-old son Joseph, who has a severe neurological condition, would be able to die at home, surrounded by family.

The couple appealed a Jan. 26 ruling by the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario, an independent body that deals with matters under the Health Care Consent Act, which sided with the doctors, agreeing that Joseph’s breathing tube should be removed.

An emotional Justice Helen Rady said Thursday the board’s decision was reasonable, tearing up as she delivered her decision about an hour after the lawyers made their arguments in court.

Joseph’s breathing tube is to be removed by 10 a.m. Monday.

“I do my best for my baby. My son is not a criminal ... to just let him die,” Moe Maraachli said through tears outside the courtroom. “They are taking my baby away from me.”

Maraachli said he didn’t know how he will tell his wife Sana, who was too upset to sit through the day’s court proceedings, about the judge’s decision. He couldn’t think about how he would explain the situation to the couple’s older child, seven-year-old Ali.

Maraachli and Nader lost a daughter nine years ago to a condition nearly identical to Joseph’s.

Joseph has been at London’s Victoria Hospital since October, suffering from severe and progressively deteriorating neurological problems.

His brain is losing function and he can’t breathe on his own or swallow.

After a battery of tests and various examinations, specialists in London concluded that Joseph has no prospect of recovery and is in a persistent vegetative state.

But Joseph’s parents insisted the baby responds to their voices and touch and has been growing over the course of his hospital stay. They wanted doctors to perform a tracheotomy — opening a direct airway through an incision in the trachea — and let them take Joseph home to die.

Doctors refused to perform the procedure because it’s too risky.

The craziest quote in the article is the final quote
Doctors refused to perform the procedure (tracheotomy) because it's too risky.

Why is it too risky, the child is supposedly dying anyway, and after they remove the breathing tube, the child will supposedly die anyway. So what's at issue?

I am convinced that this case is really about deciding who has the power to make end-of-life decisions. The court aooears to be suggesting that the Hospital and the doctors have the power to make end-of-life decisions, even when it is against the reasonable wishes of the family. If this is the case, then the people of Ontario better be ready, because this is worse than supposed death panels.


Anonymous said...

My heart is breaking for this family. The doctors are insensitive and egotistical.

Martin Evers said...

I read the article in the free press and was astounded at the idiocy of the statement from the doctors about risky procedures when the procedure they will go ahead with is terminal.


Anonymous said...

I believe that not only should the people of Ontario be ready but the people of all of Canada. This is down right terrifying.

We are not talking about parents or spouses wanting extrodinary measures taken to try and keep a loved one alive that has no hope of living.

Everyone realizes that Joseph is going to die. People really need to be asking what the real agenda is here. I have read quotes from the doctors and the judge using terms like suffering and discomfort. If Joseph is truly in a vegetative state then he can not feel discomfort or suffering. If the doctors or judge are actually concerned about Joseph feeling those things then they also should be concerned that he will feel those things when they force him to stop breathing. Go ahead, stop breathing for a little while and tell me that it doesn't cause discomfort or suffering.

If the judge and doctors are concerned about prolonging Joseph's suffering, what proof do they have that he is suffering or would suffer if given a tracheotomy and sent home? Doesn't that supposed concern kind of nulify their theory that Joseph is in a vegetative state? Far too many contradictions for my taste.

Much much more is going on here and all of Canada should be up in arms!

Anonymous said...

I agree that this case is another in the mountain of legal arguments to show who has power. However, if you really want to look at an insidious culprit here, it is the insurance companies who insure the hospitals and doctors. They make a fortune on insurance premiums. (It makes me wonder why doctors no longer want to practice - the insurance is too high.) Let me explain - if they insert a tracheotomy tube and the baby dies as a result, the family could sue. In this case, the family likely wouldn't, but that does not stop the hospital nor the courts from considering that they might. Now if the baby dies as a result of removing the breathing apparatus, the procedure having been UPHELD BY A COURT OF LAW, personal injury is null and void. ALTHOUGH . . . IF THE FAMILY HAS NOT SIGNED A DOCUMENT OR WAIVER, IT DOES LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN FOR CONSIDERATION OF PERSONAL INJURY RESULTING IN DEATH - EITHER WAY.

June said...

The 'death panel' under Obama's great Health Care Reform will be making these kinds of decisions in the USA, not only for babies and children with disabilities, they want to get rid of the older population also. Could a trach' pose any more risk than removing the breathing tube. This whole world is going down fast. Justice is a thing of the past - no compassion in the government.