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Charlie Gard dies

Charlie Gard, the British baby whose legal battle caught the attention of the world, died July 28, just over a week before his first birthday, his family announced.
 
Connie Yates, the baby's mother, issued a brief statement saying: "Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie."
 
Charlie, who would have turned 1 year old Aug. 4, had been transferred to a hospice for palliative care after Yates and his father, Chris Gard, said July 24 they had decided to drop their legal battle to pursue treatment overseas.
 
The couple wanted to take Charlie home to die, but a High Court judge decided it was in the child's best interest to spend his final hours in the care of a hospice. He suffered from encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.
 
The situation had caught the world's attention, including the attention of Pope Francis. The day the parents dropped their legal battle, Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said the pope was "praying for Charlie and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering."
 
After news of Charlie's death, Pope Francis tweeted: "I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him."
 
Charlie's parents, who live in London, had fought for eight months for medical help that might have saved the life of their son.
 
They raised 1.3 million pounds (US$1.7 million) to take him abroad for treatment, but the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London had argued that Charlie was beyond help and that it was not in his best interests to be kept alive, triggering a protracted legal battle with the parents that led to interventions from U.S. President Donald Trump and from the pope.
 
At a news conference July 25 in Rome, Mariella Enoc, president of the Vatican children's hospital, Bambino Gesu, said the hospital had partnered U.S. neurologist, Dr. Michio Hirano, to study Charlie's case. In July, the hospital agreed with Hirano that the child's illness had proceeded too far for treatment, which might or might not have worked six months earlier.
 
But "the plug was not pulled without having tried to respond to a legitimate request by the parents and without having examined fully the condition of the child and the opportunities offered by researchers on an international level," the hospital said in a statement.
 
  • Published in World

Baby Charlie Gard

The national director of Priests for Life in New York welcomed a London court's decision allowing a U.S. doctor to go to England to examine a 10-month-old terminally ill British infant at the center 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 also were denied permission to take the baby to the United States for evaluation and possible treatment. The couple had raised $1.8 million through crowdfunding to cover the cost.
 
Doctors at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital said transferring the baby to a U.S. hospital would prolong his suffering. On July 14, England's 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 U.K. to examine him is certainly welcome," Father Frank Pavone said.
 
News reports July 17 said Hirano, a neuorologist, had arrived in London and a second U.S. physician, who has not been identified, also will 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 10 percent 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," Father Pavone said in a statement.
 
"Where there's life, there's hope," the priest said, "and we will continue praying for Charlie and his parents."
 
Pope Francis called for respecting the wishes of a terminally ill child's parents to accompany and care for their child "until the end." A Vatican spokesman said July 2 that the pope has been following "with affection and emotion" the events concerning the baby.
 
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in a July 6 statement that Charlie's parents "understand that the odds are against him, but like all great parents, they are not only willing but are anxious to take those odds and fight for the life of their child."
 
The parents "want to truly care for their child in the way only parents can. They love him in a way an institution -- a hospital and government -- cannot," Dannenfelser said.
 
She called it "dangerous utilitarianism" for Charlie's parents not being allowed to put their baby in the care of those who do not see such "parental love in action as an act of futility."
 
A petition urging the hospital to allow the baby to be taken to the United States was signed by more than 350,000 people.
 
  • Published in World
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