Baby at Center of Pro-Life Debate Dies at Home in Canada

September 28, 2011 - 10:00 AM

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Canadian boy whose family's struggle to keep him alive despite overwhelming odds spurred an international end-of-life debate has died about four months before his second birthday.

Family spokesman and spiritual adviser Brother Paul O'Donnell says Joseph Maraachli, who became widely known as Baby Joseph, died Tuesday. He was 20 months old.

Joseph suffered from the progressive neurological disease Leigh Syndrome. Canadian doctors refused to perform a tracheotomy to extend his life earlier this year, calling it futile because the disease was terminal. An Ontario court decided doctors could remove the child's breathing tube.

His family sought help from American hospitals. Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis agreed to treat Joseph, and he received the tracheotomy in March. He spent a month at Cardinal Glennon before returning home.