The Vatican’s Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in Rome is offering to take in 10 month-old Charlie Gard, the British infant who is suffering from a terminal disease in a UK hospital that has won the right to discontinue his life support. Another hospital in the U.S. has also offered to take in the child and treat him free-of-charge.
Zenit.org is reporting on the offer which came from the leaders of Bambino Gesu hospital who say they are willing to care for Charlie if the courts will allow him to be transferred to their hospital.
In a statement released on Monday, Mariella Enoc, president of the Vatican-owned Bambino Jesus hospital, quoted a June 30 tweet sent out by Pope Francis which read: “Defend human life, especially when it is wounded by sickness, is a commitment of love that God entrusts to every man.”
“The Holy Father’s words, regarding little Charlie, summarize well the mission of the Bambino Gesu hospital,” Ms. Enoc said. “That is why I asked the Health Director to verify with London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, where the newborn is hospitalized, if the health conditions exist for Charlie’s eventual transfer to our hospital. We know that the case is desperate and that, apparently, effective therapies do not exist.”
She went on to express her closeness to Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Charlie Gard, who were devastated by the court’s decision to end their son’s life, denying them the opportunity to try an experimental treatment in the United States or even to take him home to die.
“We are close to the parents through prayer and, if they so desire, we are ready to receive their child in our hospital for the time that remains to him to live,” Ms. Enoc said.
Another hospital in the U.S., which has not been named, has also offered to take in the child and to give him a new experimental treatment at no cost if he is able to travel to the U.S.
President Donald J. Trump has also offered aid to the child, sending out a Tweet saying: “If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.”
Charlie is suffering from a rare inherited mitochondrial disease of which there are only 16 known cases. It’s technical name is infantile onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, referred to generally as “MDDS”. Charlie suffers from a specific mutation of MDDS which has severely affected his brain, muscles, and ability to breathe. He also has congenital deafness and a severe epilepsy disorder. His heart, liver and kidneys are also affected and progressive muscle weakness has left him unable to move his arms or legs or breathe unaided.
His parents raised more than $1 million to pay for a trip to the United States where he could receive an experimental treatment known as nucleoside therapy; however, British and European Union courts have ruled that the treatment was futile and that Charlie should be removed from life support.
The Charlie Gard story is now an international sensation, which could be why the Great Ormond Street Hospital has posted a FAQ page about the case in which it states that the hospital will not rush cessation of treatment.
“ . . . [O]ur priority in situations like this is to work closely with the family to discuss the next steps in their child’s care. In Charlie’s case we have been discussing for many months, how the withdrawal of treatment may work. There would be no rush for any action to be taken immediately. Discussions and planning in these situations usually take some days – based on the experience of our clinical teams.”
The parents have asked to be permitted to take their son home to die but this request has been refused.
“We’re not allowed to choose if our son lives and we’re not allowed to choose when or where Charlie dies. We, and most importantly Charlie, have been massively let down throughout this whole process,” Charlie’s parents said.
Arthur and Olga Estopinan of Baltimore, Maryland, whose son Arturito, was born with a similar condition to Charlie’s, was greatly helped by the experimental treatment and are horrified by what is happening to Charlie.
Arthur, 51, a government consultant, told The Sun: “We feel very fortunate to be American and not British – because if we lived in the UK Arturito would surely be dead by now. We are beyond shocked that doctors in the UK are saying Charlie should ‘die with dignity’. How insensitive when there is a treatment which could save Charlie’s life and eminent doctors in the US who are willing to help him.”
Charlie’s parents believe that if there’s any chance at all to save their son’s life, it’s worth taking.
“This is why we have continued our fight. All we’ve ever wanted is the chance for Charlie to try these drugs – Charlie will die anyway so we have nothing to lose,” Connie said.
If you have not already done so, please click here to sign the petition to save Charlie’s life.
The parents are inviting everyone interested in their son’s well-being to keep abreast of this situation via Facebook.
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