EDMONTON - The parents of a brain-damaged infant who was to be unhooked from life support are getting more time to line up medical specialists for a second opinion.
An Edmonton judge has put over the case of baby Isaiah May until Feb. 19 when the court will decide how to wrangle with questions that are attracting attention across Canada and around the world.
Dr. Richard Taylor, a neo-natalogist from Victoria General Hospital, has agreed to examine the boy late next month.
Isaiah's mother, Rebecka May, 23, was relieved to hear that her son will have more time. Doctors at Edmonton's Stollery Children's Hospital were originally planning to disconnect him from a ventilator on Jan. 20.
"We are happy that someone has come forward and offered to assess him, but we will see what the report says," May said outside court Wednesday.
Another specialist, an unidentified pediatric neurologist from the Mayo Clinic in the United States, may also review the boy's condition.
Isaiah's parents successfully filed for a court injunction to stop doctors from taking him off life support last week. Now the Mays want 90 days for an independent medical review of his case. Alberta Health Services has said it is willing to grant 30 days. Lawyers for both sides have been working together to set up the review.
Justice Michelle Crighton of Court of Queen's Bench said Wednesday that a timeline for Isaiah's assessment won't be set until Feb. 19 at the earliest.
The baby was born last October with severe brain damage after his umbilical cord got wrapped around his throat, which deprived him of oxygen. Doctors told the Mays there was little chance the boy would survive longer than a few days, even on a ventilator.
Since then, his parents have visited him in hospital every day. They say their son has grown, put on weight, moves his limbs, wets his diaper and opens his eyes.
A weary-looking Isaac May, 22, said he remains hopeful about his first child.
"Every time I hold him he is non-stop moving," he said. "He moves his head. He opens his eyelids a little bit. Every little thing is an improvement."
The couple's lawyer, Rosanna Saccomani, said trying to find specialists to review Isaiah's medical file has been challenging because such experts are very busy.
She said the Mays are hopeful but realize it's possible the new assessment may not be favourable.
"They are simply asking for a second opinion. Depending on what that second opinion is, they may have to make that difficult decision. They recognize that," Saccomani said.
"But they want the luxury and benefit of the second opinion so that they know they have done everything reasonable for the benefit of their son."
Baby Isaiah's case has sparked an outpouring of support for the family. Thousands of people have posted messages of encouragement on social networking sites such as Facebook.
It has also become a rallying point for religious and right-to-life groups, such as the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, the American Life League and HumanLifeMatters. The story has also been picked up by the Catholic Channel in the United States and the Fox News Network.
Rebecka May said they are grateful and humbled by all the sentiment.
"They are supporting us. Their prayers are with us," she said. "They understand that we are just trying to give our son more time because we love him."