I recently read an article in the London Free Press (March 22nd) about the highly publicized Joseph Maraachli situation titled, Baby Joseph Case Becomes Political Issue in U.S.
As the Executive Director the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, I was personally involved in helping Baby Joseph’s parents keep control of the medical treatment decisions that were being made for their son.
Joseph was diagnosed with a brain condition that doctors believe will eventually cause his untimely death. Joseph's parents, Moe and Sana, understood that their son’s case was terminal. Their only request was for a simple procedure to be performed that would enable Joseph to spend his remaining days at home.
However, attending physicians at the London Health Sciences Centre hospital in Ontario believed they knew what was in the best interest for Baby Joseph. Sadly, but not surprisingly, their decision was to remove Joseph's breathing machine so that he would die at the hospital.
Joseph's parents objected feeling their son deserved better. After much fanfare and wrangling, the one-year old was transferred to a SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis where the parent’s wishes for medical treatment are being respectfully considered.
Subsequent to the Baby Joseph case was the tragic situation of Ms. Rachel Nyirahabiyambere. An Alexandria Circuit Court ruled that Ms. Nyirahabiyambere's medically-assisted food and water was to be removed and that she should subsequently be dehydrated to death against her family's wishes.
An appointed guardian – a complete stranger to Ms. Nyirahabiyambere and her family – decided that she should be receiving only palliative care because she was "profoundly vegetative" and had no chance of recovery.
The family looked to the Catholic hospital (Georgetown University) for support. But much to their disbelief the hospital wiped their hands clean of Ms. Nyirahabiyambere's care. Apparently the case was too costly and she had no insurance. So therefore, this institution based on Catholic principles did nothing to stop the public guardian from carrying out Ms. Nyirahabiyambere dehydration death.
Fortunately, her family fought back and three weeks after Ms. Nyirahabiyambere's feeding tube was removed, a judge ordered that she be given food and water immediately while the legal issues were being weighed.