Saturday 21 April 2018

Charlie Gard's parents in touch with White House and state Donald Trump and Pope Francis have given them hope

Chris Gard and Connie Yates with their son Charlie Gard. Picture: PA
Chris Gard and Connie Yates with their son Charlie Gard. Picture: PA

Barney Henderson

The parents of Charlie Gard have said they are in touch with the White House and that support from President Donald Trump and Pope Francis had given them hope.

The US president tweeted an offer to help the 11-month-old terminally-ill British baby baby earlier this week.

Pope Francis called for Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, to be allowed to "accompany and treat their child until the end" and the Vatican's paediatric hospital has offered to care for the boy.

Charlie has been at the centre of a lengthy legal battle involving his parents, who want to take him to the US for experimental therapy, and doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

A family spokesman said: "The White House has been in talks with Charlie's family, GOSH, the UK Government, the Department of Health and the American doctor who wants to treat Charlie.

"President Trump has a very good understanding of the whole case and he did not make an off-the-cuff tweet."

Ms Yates told Sky News: "The support from the Pope and the president has given us hope.

"They are traditional men who believe in the family.

"They believe in our case and understand why we believe it is right to continue fighting so hard to save Charlie."

Boris Johnson on Wednesday backed GOSH and stressed that any decisions made about his care should be in his "best interests".

The Foreign Secretary told his Italian counterpart it is "right that decisions continued to be led by expert medical opinion, supported by the courts".

Charlie's mother has spoken to doctors at the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome and medics are in touch with international and US experts about the 11-month-old's treatment, a spokesman for the hospital said.

Bambino Gesu hospital asked GOSH if Charlie could be transferred there after the Pope's intervention.

Mr Johnson discussed the case with Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano as part of a scheduled telephone call.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "Minister Alfano also raised the case of Charlie Gard and the Pope's recent offer of treatment in Italy.

"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."

Bambino Gesu hospital said it was in discussions with the English authorities and Charlie's family about a possible transfer.

But it has been told a move would not be possible unless it agreed to follow the Supreme Court's ruling, a hospital spokesman said.

Charlie is suffering from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage and no one can be certain whether or not he feels pain, GOSH has said.

Successive legal attempts by Charlie's parents failed as judges in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London ruled in favour of GOSH doctors, while the European Court of Human Rights declined to hear the couple's appeal.

Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, are now spending the last days of his life with him.

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