A baby whose terminal illness has spurred international efforts to help him is expected to die at a London hospital after doctors and the British government says he should not be moved.
Charlie Gard, 11 months, is suffering from a rare genetic condition that means he cannot move his limbs or breathe without the aid of a respirator.
Doctors at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital have said that they plan to disconnect the baby from life support, despite his parents Chris and Connie raising money to bring him to the U.S. for experimental treatment.
British courts, later backed by the European Court of Human Rights, have blocked that move, saying that the new treatment won’t help and would cause further suffering.
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The Vatican’s Bambino Gesu children’s hospital has also said that it will treat the boy’s mitochondrial depletion syndrome, and that it will overcome any legal obstacles necessary to bring Charlie to Rome.
With international interest growing in the case, the British government said Wednesday that it backed the doctors against the potential Italy move, meaning that the boy will likely be disconnected from life support.
“The foreign secretary said this was a deeply tragic and complex case for all involved, and said it was right that decisions continued to be led by expert medical opinion, supported by the courts, in line with Charlie’s best interests,” U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s spokesman said.
The statement came after Johnson told his Italian counterpart Angelino Alfano that it is “impossible” to move the child because of legal reasons, the BBC reported.
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British Prime Minister Theresa May had previously said that she sympathizes with the parents but that doctors are forced to make “heartbreaking decisions.”
Pope Francis, following Catholic teaching that taking any measure to end a life is morally wrong, stepped into the debate about trying to extend Charlie’s life earlier this week.
A Vatican spokesman said he was following the case “with affection and sadness” and said the Pope was praying that the parents’ “desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored.”
President Trump also weighed in via Twitter, 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.”
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Charlie’s life support had been scheduled to be turned off last Friday, though the hospital says it is now working with his parents to give them more time with their son.
The couple had asked to take Charlie to their home to die, but were also rejected in that request.
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