ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A 13-month-old boy at the center of a right-to-life debate and suffering from a potentially fatal neurodegenerative disease is now being evaluated at a St. Louis hospital.
Joseph Maraachli suffers from an unspecified neurodegenerative disease. He had been at Children's Hospital in London, Ontario, since the fall, and his doctors in Canada say his disease is fatal.
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Fearing doctors were about to end treatment, Joseph's parents and U.S.-based Priests for Life began a social media campaign on his behalf. On Sunday, Joseph's father and the Rev. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life flew with the child to Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis, after the hospital agreed to accept him.
Pavone says Joseph will undergo several tests as the U.S. doctors try to determine exactly what the illness is.
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Statement from SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center regarding “Baby Joseph”
Joseph Maraachli was safely transported last night (Sunday) from a hospital in London, Ontario, arriving in St. Louis in serious but stable condition. He is currently under evaluation by the medical team of SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center/Saint Louis University School of Medicine. The team includes a pulmonologist, neurologists, ENT surgeons, a geneticist and critical care specialists.
Joseph remains ventilated for breathing assistance. Medical evaluation is continuing. Medical team leader Dr. Robert Wilmott, Chief of Pediatrics at SSM Cardinal Glennon, says Joseph likely will have a tracheotomy performed by the end of this week to facilitate his transition to a skilled nursing facility.
A tracheotomy is a surgical procedure to create an opening into the airway through an incision in the neck. The trach tube allows for suction of fluid out of the lungs, creates a safe and stable way to use a mechanical ventilator, and is more comfortable for the child.
“We are pleased to be able to assist the family in this very challenging time,” Dr. Wilmott says.
SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center is a 190-bed, not-for-profit, inpatient and outpatient pediatric medical center. Cardinal Glennon serves children primarily from eastern Missouri and southern Illinois, but also treats children from across the U.S. and from countries around the world. The hospital is home to the Level 1 pediatric trauma center and a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, both the highest available classification. Other specialties include: cardiology, critical care, rehabilitation, pulmonology, minimally invasive surgery, fetal surgery, hematology/oncology, sleep disorders, weight management and others.