Joseph Maraachli, the terminally ill 20 month-old known affectionately as “Baby Joseph,” died peacefully at home with his family in Windsor, Ontario on Sept. 28.
“It seemed like a relaxing breath, like he was okay. It didn’t seem like he struggled,” Joseph's mother Sana told Canada's CBC News.
Baby Joseph, who suffered from a severe and fatal neurological disorder called Leigh Syndrome, was considered to be in a vegetative state by Canadian doctors, who recommended that he have his feeding and breathing tubes removed.
In March of this year, Joseph's parents Moe and Sana Maraachli had asked pro-life advocacy group Priests for Life for help after doctors at London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario refused to transfer the child to a facility that could perform a tracheotomy on him.
The hospital claimed that the procedure—which would allow for the baby to breath on his own—was reserved for patients who needed a breathing machine long term. Baby Joseph had been at the Ontario facility since October of last year. His sister, Zina, passed away from a similar condition years ago.
However, physicians at the Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis, Mo., where Baby Joseph was transferred, successfully performed a tracheotomy on the infant enabling him to spend his last weeks at home.
Priests for Life raised the money to transfer Baby Joseph to the St. Louis hospital and paid for the procedure and subsequent medical tests.
“This young boy and his parents fulfilled a special mission from God,” Priests for Life said in a Sept. 28 statement.
“Amidst a Culture of Death where despair leads us to dispose of the vulnerable, they upheld a Culture of Life where hope leads us to welcome and care for the vulnerable.”
Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo and co-executive director of Terri's Life & Hope Network, also offered his condolences.
“It was a privilege and an inspiration for me to meet the Maraachli family and see their dedication to care for and love their precious boy, regardless of his disability,” Schindler said.
“All the parents wanted was to bring their baby home,” he added. “By their example, they showed the world what it means to love unconditionally. May we all learn from their example.”
A private funeral service is scheduled for the morning of Sept. 28. Baby Joseph will be buried beside his sister Zina at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens in Oldcastle, Ontario.