Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Trump intervenes in case of seriously ill British child

The American president tweeted that he wished to help 10-month-old Charlie Gard receive treatment in a United States hospital

Charlie Gard suffers from a rare genetic condition that has left him with brain damage and unable to breathe unaided
Charlie Gard suffers from a rare genetic condition that has left him with brain damage and unable to breathe unaided

AMERICA // Donald Trump has intervened in the case of a severely ill British 10-month-old ­- whose parents have exhausted their legal options of receiving continued state-provided care in the UK - by offering to facilitate the infant's treatment in an American hospital.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS), which had been treating the child at the world-renowned children’s hospital in Great Ormond Street, London, was told by Britain’s High Court in April it could withdraw life-support treatment from Charlie Gard, who suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic condition that means he is unable to breathe unaided.

Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, took the case to the ultimate legal authority in the European Union, the European Court of Human Rights, pleading that they be allowed to take their son to America for experimental treatment. But that court, too, ruled against them on June 27, and the Great Ormond Street Hospital had planned to remove the child’s life support on Friday last week.

The hospital changed their minds at the point, to allow the family to spend more time making memories of their time together.

On Sunday, the Vatican released a statement in which they said that Pope Francis wished to ”express his closeness with [Charlie’s] parents”, and revealed that the pontiff had followed the case with “affection and sadness”.

President Trump tweeted on Monday that he was following the lead of Francis, stating that he would endeavour to help the family.

Further to the president's tweet, a White House spokeswoman said members of the administration have spoken to Gard's family.

"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. The president is just trying to be helpful if at all possible," she said, calling the situation "heartbreaking."

The case has become an ethical minefield in the United Kingdom, as the state-run NHS has been portrayed as an uncaring monolith that refused to accept the wishes of Charlie’s parents.

Doctors however have pointed out the child’s condition, which only afflicts an estimated 15 other children around the world, argue that he should be allowed to die with dignity: he cannot see, hear, move cry or swallow and has irreversible brain damage, the BBC reports.

A crowd-funding campaign has raised more than £1.3m to fund treatment in the United States, however the legal opinion was that that continued treatment would cause "significant harm" and specialist said the proposed therapy wouldn't help Charlie.

Updated: July 4, 2017 03:07 AM