The Canadian Hospital and its doctors have much to explain. Stating that a tracheotomy was not in Baby Joseph’s interests, and wishing to pull him off life extending care, they clearly decided that the time had come for Joseph to die. But his parents wanted to take him home with them to die and requested a tracheotomy so they could put him on a ventilator.  The hospital admantly refused.  That led to litigation.

Priests for Life ended the impasse by flying him to St. Louis for the surgery. Not only is he home, as I reported the other day, but he is able to breathe without mechanical assistance. From the story:

“Joseph has been breathing on his own, without the aid of a mechanical ventilator, for more than a week,” said Dr. Robert Wilmott, chief of pediatrics at Cardinal Glennon. “By providing him with this common palliative procedure, we’ve given Joseph the chance to go home and be with his family after spending so much of his young life in the hospital.”

Did you get that? “Common palliative procedure.” Canada should pay for this surgery. And the hospital and its administrative processes and attitudes should be investigated so nothing like this happens again.

This is futile care theory in a nutshell.  It may theoretically be about trying to serve patients’ best interests, as in the image above.  But I have seen too many of these cases not to think that way too often, the denial of wanted, efficacious, life sustaining treatment or other medically appropriate procedures, is primarily about money—and/or control.

Articles by Wesley J. Smith

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