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Joseph Maraachli, known internationally as “Baby Joseph,” has responded well and is making a good recovery from the tracheotomy he received at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis, Mo.

Joseph will have his tracheotomy tube changed for the first time this weekend, an important step in his journey toward a transfer to a skilled nursing facility, says Dr. Robert Wilmott, Chief of Pediatrics for SSM Cardinal Glennon and Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

Specialists at SSM Cardinal Glennon/Saint Louis University School of Medicine will also repeat tests to determine progress prior to discharging Joseph. Joseph has a progressive neurologic disease with a poor prognosis.

Pediatric ENT doctors at SSM Cardinal Glennon performed a tracheotomy on Monday. This procedure, which creates an opening into the windpipe through an incision in the front of the neck, allows Joseph to be more comfortable. With the tracheotomy, he will be able to continue to use a mechanical ventilator if necessary; and the surgery will make mobility possible. The tracheotomy helps keep his airway free from secretions and protects his lungs from inhaled saliva or other material that could cause aspiration pneumonia.

The tracheotomy also allows Joseph’s family to hold him out of bed, to see his face and to soothe him more easily. For a baby with a progressive illness, the family closeness, safety and comfort the tracheotomy provide are very important.

“We wanted to ensure that Joseph was as comfortable and as secure as possible,” Wilmott says. “We have not seen evidence that he is experiencing any discomfort from the recent surgery. This palliative procedure achieves those goals and will allow him to go home, where he will be surrounded by family.”

Joseph is expected to stay in the pediatric intensive care unit at SSM Cardinal Glennon for another week before moving to Ranken Jordan – A Pediatric Specialty Hospital in St. Louis. The family’s hope is to bring Joseph back to their home in Windsor, Ontario.

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