Joseph Maraachli died on Tuesday night, six months after a privately funded pro-life group arranged for the tracheotomy he needed to return home and spend his final days with his parents in Ontario. He was 20 months old.
Joseph was born with a rare neurological disease that left him dependent on machines to breathe. A Canadian hospital decreed that the machines should be shut off. There was much debate over whether Baby Joseph was in a truly “vegetative” state. The battle for his life rolled through the Canadian court system, on its way to becoming international news.
Priests for Life stepped in and took Joseph to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, where a tracheotomy was deemed “medically appropriate,” as reported by Life News. Priests for Life and their donors paid for the baby’s transportation and medical care. No one was forced to do anything, or pay for anything. Love, faith, and charity changed Joseph’s destiny from shutdown in a hospital room to six months of life in his family home. His parents were even able to see him baptized after he received his procedure.
When Baby Joseph came home, his father Moe Maraachli said, “It’s a miracle. My son now has freedom. I’m very happy. My wife and I will respect the second opinion from the hospital in St. Louis. We will accept it with all my heart because Joseph got his human right to get a chance to get a second opinion. When God wants to take his life, He’ll take it, and nobody can say ‘No’ to God.”
Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life released a statement upon learning of Joseph’s passing:
I learned with sadness tonight of the passing of Baby Joseph, and extend my prayers to his family. This young boy and his parents fulfilled a special mission from God. 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.
From my first conversation with Baby Joseph’s parents, they expressed to me their trust in God. They had no demands of Him regarding how long their son would live. They just wanted to fulfill their calling to love their child unconditionally and to protect him from those who considered his life worthless.
I praise God tonight for the tens of thousands who stood with Priests for Life and other prolife groups to save Baby Joseph. We remain convinced that the value of life is not measured in months or years, but rather reflected in the love we share moment by moment. We all loved Joseph, because God entrusts us to the care of each other. In that conviction we will continue to counteract the culture of death and restore protection and equality to all, born and unborn.
Bobby Schindler, co-director of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network named in honor of his sister, also worked hard to give Joseph his half-year at home. “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,” he told Life News. “All the parents wanted was to bring their baby home. By their example, they showed the world what it means to love unconditionally. May we all learn from their example.”
It matters that Joseph Maraachli lived. It matters that he lived six months longer than he was “supposed” to.
Life and love are always acts of faith. The exchange of hearts is a perilous adventure, from the moment of breathtaking trust at the beginning of romance, to the first cry of fragile life that reaches a new mother’s ears. How many people around the world, at this very moment, are unwittingly saying farewell to loved ones they will never see again? How many will fall into sleepless beds tomorrow night, begging God to take everything they have in exchange for one more day together… or one more hour?
The last enemy that will be destroyed is Death. Until that day, it cannot be denied… but we shouldn’t be too eager to surrender without a hell of a fight. Life is the execution of bold strategies in a war against entropy that cannot be won. How sad it would be to live in a world where free people can’t come together and make outrageous efforts to save the life of a child… the kind of efforts that let Baby Joseph go home, and stay there forever.