A leading American pro-life priest has welcomed a London court’s decision allowing a US doctor to go to England to examine a ten-month-old terminally ill British child at the centre of a medical and ethical debate.
The baby, Charlie Gard, was born with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness, brain damage and respiratory or liver failure; it is typically fatal.
The baby’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, lost their legal battle to keep Charlie on life support and to then take him home to die. They were also denied permission to take the baby to the United States for evaluation and possible treatment. The couple had raised £1.4 million through crowdfunding to cover the cost.
Doctors at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital said transferring the baby to a US hospital would prolong his suffering. But last week the High Court ruled he could be examined by Dr Michio Hirano of Columbia University.
“News that an American doctor with experience in treating Charlie’s disease will travel to the UK to examine him is certainly welcome,” said Fr Frank Pavone, the national director of Priests for Life in New York.
Hirano, a neuorologist, reportedly arrived in London on Monday and a second US physician, who has not been identified, will also be allowed to examine the infant.
Hirano has treated other children suffering from the same extremely rare condition that Charlie has, and he has stated he thinks there’s a ten per cent chance that Charlie’s condition could improve.
“Ultimately, the decision about further treatment should be made by Charlie’s parents in consultation with the doctors they choose, and not by any court,” said Fr Pavone.
“Where there’s life, there’s hope,” the priest said, “and we will continue praying for Charlie and his parents.”
Pope Francis called for res-pecting the wishes of a terminally ill child’s parents to accompany and care for their child “until the end”. A Vatican spokesman said that the Pope has been following “with affection and emotion” the events concerning the baby.
President Donald Trump also has followed the case. In a tweet, he expressed his support for the Gard family, writing: “If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the UK and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.”
A petition urging the hospital to allow the baby to be taken to the United States was signed by more than 350,000 people.
Picture: Supporters of the parents of Charlie Gard demonstrate outside the High Court in London – Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, petitioned the court to allow them to travel with their terminally ill child to the United States for medical treatment. The court denied their request but ruled that a US doctor who specialises in the baby’s condition can travel to England to examine the child.