Canadian Hospital Agrees to Let Boy in Vegetative State Die at Home

The Canadian hospital under fire for ordering parents to remove their young son from life support because he is a vegetative state has backed down and agreed to one of the family's requests: to let the boy die at home.

London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, issued a statement Monday afternoon saying that it will bring 13-month-old Joseph Maraachli to his family's home, but it then insists that staff members remove the boy from a respirator, possibly giving him only minutes more to live, the London Free Press reported.

“London Health Sciences Centre is and always has been willing to organize and pay for a medical transfer home to Windsor (where the family lives) for Baby Joseph, accompanied by LHSC physicians and staff,” the hospital said.

But the hospital still will not agree to the parents' request to perform a tracheotomy on Joseph, a measure the hospital calls needlessly invasive but the family has said helped their older child who suffered a similar condition live another six months.

The announcement comes as the hospital finds itself on the receiving end of threats sent by e-mail and phone calls, many of them said to come from the U.S. The hospital has since beefed up its security.

Joseph's parents had hoped to transfer him to a hospital in Michigan to perform the tracheotomy, but the Michigan hospital declined to accept the boy as a patient after reviewing his medical files.

The boy suffers from a rare, progressive neurological disease which, Canadian doctors say, has left him in a vegetative state beyond recovery.

A spokesman for Maraachli’s family told the family is "working on an appeal" to the Michigan hospital's decision. The hospital declined to comment on "any matters surrounding the case."

Canadian health care allocation officials already ruled that Joseph had to be taken off life support and allowed to die in the hospital.