Vatican hospital offers to take in terminally-ill British baby, Charlie Gard: Report

Vatican hospital offers to take in terminally-ill British baby, Charlie Gard: Report

Charlie Gard Jul4
This is an undated hand out photo of Charlie Gard provided by his family, at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London. (Family of Charlie Gard via AP)

LONDON: A hospital in the Vatican has offered to take in British-born infant Charlie Gard who has a rare genetic disorder and is due to be taken off life support, CNN reported on Wednesday (Jul 5).

The 11-month-old baby's parents are currently caught in a legal tussle over Charlie's fate, after courts had ruled that keeping the him on life support would only prolong his suffering as there was no hope of recovering from the disease which causes progressive muscle weakness, including in key organs such as the heart.

Britain's Supreme Court ruled last month that going to the US for treatment would prolong the baby's suffering without any realistic prospect of helping him. The court would not allow an American doctor found by the couple to be identified and details about the therapy were not available.

The parents asked the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the ruling, but that court last week declined to intervene.

"The offer by the Vatican-owned pediatric hospital in Rome is seen as an effort "to prevent doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London from turning off his life support and to allow his parents to be the ones making the decision on whether to do so," CNN said.

Mariella Enoc, president of the Vatican's Bambino Gesu Children's Hospital, released a statement asking the director of the London hospital, where Charlie is staying, "to verify whether the health conditions exist to possibly transfer Charlie to our hospital," CNN added.

According to the CNN report, Enoc said the London hospital was very kind and thanked her for her interest, but confirmed that for legal reasons, transferring Charlie to their care would be impossible.

The parents - Chris Gard and Connie Yates - said they were spending time with their son before his life support is turned off on Friday by the London hospital.

They launched a fundraising appeal to help pay for his doctors' bills in the United States. They have raised US$1.68 million from more than 83,000 donations, according to his Gofundme page.

The baby's plight has also attracted the attention of Pope Francis, who on Sunday expressed his support for the parents saying he hoped doctors would allow them to "care for their child until the end."

President Donald Trump on Monday offered US help to the baby.

"If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the UK and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so," he said in a tweet.

"President Trump has offered to help the family in this heartbreaking situation," Helen Ferre, White House director of media affairs, said in a statement.

"Although the president himself has not spoken to the family, he does not want to pressure them in any way, members of the administration have spoken to the family in calls facilitated by the British government."

UK Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman, asked about the Trump tweet, said it was a very sensitive case and their thoughts are with Charlie’s family.

Source: Agencies/CNA/mn