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Dr_Dredd's avatar

Was this in the best interests of the child, and who's going to pay for it?

Asked by Dr_Dredd (10535points) March 16th, 2011

Joseph Maraachli (a.k.a. “Baby Joseph”), age 13 months, suffers from a progressive neurologic disorder and is thought to be in a persistant vegetative state. He had been on a ventilator for months in a Canadian hospital. His sister Zina had the same condition 8 years ago. She was given a tracheostomy and sent home, where she died 6 months later. Baby Joseph’s parents wanted him to get a tracheostomy, too, and go home like his sister. However, in the intervening years, the standard of medical care changed, tracheostomies were not considered to be helpful, and the hospital declined to perform one. Despite numerous court cases and medical opinions stating that doing this medical procedure might be harmful to the baby, the parents refused to consent to removing him from the ventilator without the tracheostomy and letting him die peacefully.

There was an outcry from many clergy and citizens groups. Priests for Life was able to get Baby Joseph transferred to a Catholic hospital in the U.S., where apparently the tracheostomy will be performed on Friday.

Is an invasive procedure that will not extend quantity or quality of life really in the best interests of this baby? Are the parents thinking more of themselves or the baby when demanding the procedure? And finally, who is going to pay for it? I doubt the Maraachli’s have U.S. health insurance; will Medicaid or the hospital eat the costs?

I am troubled by this case, not the least because of the fact that I have seen so many other people suffer and die from lack of medical treatment and no pro-life groups protest for them.

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4 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

I’m troubled by it as well, and I am Catholic. I do not see where in my religion it states, “Save the life of a child with every modern medical method possible”.

It’s detrimental to the child, the family, the community at large and to Catholics. Obviously this family has a genetic link to this condition. Knowing that they chose to continue creating a family. Then they gave birth to another child with this same condition.

They clearly knew the consequences of their actions. They shouldn’t be looking beyond themselves for the answer here…IMHO.

@Dr_Dredd If someone privately wishes to pay for the procedure (i.e. the Priests for Life group, or a rich Catholic) I guess I don’t see a problem with this…although I do not think it is a compassionate choice for the baby. I wouldn’t want it if this were my child.

Like you, I’d rather see the energy, time and money spent on people that can be helped/saved/cured.

MajorDisappointment's avatar

Whom, would you prefer to have make the life and death decision for your child?
Educated and sensible health-care professionals: on death panels, for financial reasons?
These parents are reacting emotionally, rather than thinking, when pleading for a life
prolonging procedure.

I have watched my kid lying there, on a hospital bed. The situation is a very emotional,
rather than a rational experience. Many people suffer and die from lack of medical
treatment in our normal description of the world. Without a miracle, this baby will also die, sooner or later.

No, an invasive procedure that will not extend quantity or quality of life is not really in the
best interests of this baby. The Catholic hospital is going to pay for it, out of compassion
rather than condonance of stupidity.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@MajorDisappointment Death panels? Really? Doctors “do no harm”.

I feel the policy to not do the trach is more out of compassion than the Priests for Life stance is.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

I have to agree with @SpatzieLover. The parents (understandably) want to have the baby go home; this procedure is being done in THEIR interests, not the child’s. I feel that this is unethical.

And although it may seem distasteful, I think we do need to take costs into account. Health care resources are finite. Hopefully the Catholic church will foot the bill; the American taxpayer should not.

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