President Trump on Monday threw his support to a terminally ill British infant whose parents lost a drawn-out legal battle to bring him to the U.S. for experimental treatment.
Trump’s solidarity came after Pope Francis had reversed the Vatican’s earlier stance to side with 10-month-old Charlie Gard’s parents, who are fighting to keep their baby on life support and decide how and when he dies.
“If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so,” the President tweeted.
The little boy, who will be 11 months old Tuesday, was born with a rare inherited mitochondrial disease that renders him unable to move his arms or legs or breathe unassisted, according to court records.
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His parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, lost their final court appeal last Tuesday when the European Court of Human Rights sided with a trio of British courts ruling sustained treatment would bring Charlie “significant harm.”
Trump is “just trying to be helpful if at all possible,” White House Director of Media Affairs Helen Aguirre Ferré told the Daily News in an email.
“Upon learning of baby Charlie Gard’s situation, President Trump has offered to help the family in this heartbreaking situation,” Ferre said. “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.”
“Due to legal issues, we can not confirm the name of doctor or hospital where the baby could be treated in the United States.”
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Gard and Yates, in a video after the court defeat, initially said doctors had refused to let them take their son home.
“We chose to take Charlie home to die, and we have said this for months that that is what we want,” Yates said. “And we’ve promised our little boy every single day that we would take him home, because that is a promise we thought we could keep.”
“We want to give him a bath at home, we want to sit on the sofa with him, we want to sleep in the bed with him, we want to put him in a cot that he’s never slept in,” Gard added. “But we’re now being denied that.”
But London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital did not immediately remove his life support, announcing in a statement Friday that “together with Charlie’s parents we are putting plans in place for his care and to give them more time together as a family.”
The parents have branded their son’s struggle “Charlie’s Fight” and harnessed social media support with the hashtags #charliesfight and #charliesarmy, as well as a thriving GoFundMe campaign to bring the baby to the U.S.
The Vatican had previously expressed compassion for the parents but emphasized the need to accept the limits of medicine. Its press office on Sunday, however, said Pope Francis was “following with affection and sadness the case of little Charlie Gard and expresses his closeness to his parents.”
“For this he prays that their wish to accompany and treat their child until the end is not neglected,” the statement said.
The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu Hospital is exploring the possibility of moving Charlie to its Rome facility, according to Italian outlet ANSA.
“We know that it is a desperate case and that there are no effective therapies,” hospital president Mariella Enoc said. “We are close to the parents in prayer and, if this is their desire, willing to take their child, for the time he has left to live.”
With News Wire Services
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