At last: Wesley J. Smith weighs in on Baby Joseph

Joseph Maraachli’s parents continue to fight for the right to take their son home

Additionally, they now have some aid from Fr. Frank Pavone–noted for his involvement in trying to save Terri Schiavo–and Priests for Life, who have volunteered to cover the costs to bring Joseph to the United States for a tracheotomy to enable him to go home to die as Maraachli’s daughter did eight years ago.

This CNN article, highlighted by bioethicist Wesley Smith, gives more history to Baby Joseph’s plight. The kicker:

If he is beyond hope, they want him to be able to receive a tracheotomy, where he can be transferred home and die in the care of family instead of in a hospital. Experts say even if the family is granted this request, caring for a child in this condition is an arduous task. Dr. David Casarett, director of research and evaluation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wissahickon Hospice, says patients at home with tracheotomies need monitoring to make sure the airway is clear of secretions, the skin is clean and dry and someone can make sure the incision at the tracheotomy site does not get infected. “A child’s care would be much more complex if a home ventilator is required, since the parents would need to manage the ventilator with the help of a nurse and respiratory therapist,” he said.

If the family wishes to undergo the “arduous task” of caring for Joseph at home, the family should have the option as they did for their daughter.  They know what’s involved in the “arduous task” and want to bring the “arduous task” home, so be it. Why should experts care how much of a burden their child will be at home? The Maraachli’s don’t care. They’ve done it before. Why? Because that’s what parents do.

Smith responds:

This is a very hard thing, and I see both sides to this aspect of the case.  But the request for a tracheotomy raises different ethical issues than requesting that life support be maintained in hospital. In my view, refusing the tracheotomy surgery is not a futile care imposition, since the surgery is not primarily intended to maintain the baby’s life, but rather is an elective procedure, to allow the parents to bring him home to die. That is a completely understandable, nay, laudable, desire on their part, but it presents a different wrinkle to the situation than the usual futile care dispute.  And let me emphasize: It wouldn’t be an issue if the hospital weren’t trying to force the baby off life support.

Read the rest and continue to pray that the Maraachli’s are able to bring their son home.

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One Response

  1. “Futile care dispute,” so that’s what they are calling murder these days . . .

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