Saturday, 08 July 2017

New Evidence Concerning Treatment for Baby Charlie Gard

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Another hearing has been announced in the case of England's baby Charlie Gard, as new evidence has come to light concerning treatment for the infant’s rare genetic disease.

London's Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for Children, where Charlie was initially taken for treatment, continues to hold the baby against his parents’ wishes and rights. The refusal by the hospital's officials to surrender him to his mother and father is based on the unethical and outlandish opinion that it is better that Charlie “die with dignity,” as trying to save his life may cause him harm.

Baby Charlie, now 11 months old, was born with Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome, a rare terminal genetic disorder causing progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. In an effort to save their son’s life, parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates raised over $1.6 million in private donations from over 80,000 people to have Charlie transported to the United States, where he would receive treatment that could possibly extend his life. However, in an nightmarish twist of events, the couple found themselves in a lengthy legal battle to keep their baby alive.

In the fight, all courts the parents pleaded with, including the final European Court of Human Rights, sided with the hospital's officials in stating that Charlie’s life support should be removed.

However, it seems that a final decision is yet to be made, as hospital officials have announced a hearing on Monday after receiving new information regarding Charlie’s treatment. GOSH spokesmen stated, “Two international hospitals and their researchers have communicated to us as late as the last 24 hours that they have fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment.”

This new turn of events seems to have given a spark of hope, as the baby’s mother, Connie, pleads again with British Prime Minister Theresa May, in an interview with LBC’s Nigel Farage, asserting, "You said if there’s new information, then you hope that Great Ormond Street would do what’s in the best interest of Charlie."

Yates was referring to a statement concerning Charlie’s case made earlier in the week by the prime minister, who made no effort to intervene for the couple. “I am confident that Great Ormond Street Hospital have and always will consider any offers or new information that has come forward with consideration of the well-being of a desperately ill child,” May asserted.

On Wednesday, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated that he also supported the court rulings, according to a spokesman:

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.

However, in direct opposition, members of the European Parliament from 15 EU member states signed an open letter stating their “full support” of Charlie and his parents. The first paragraph of the letter, which was published July 4, states:

Following inadmissibility decision of the European Court of Human Rights (the “ECtHR”) in the case of Gard and Others v. the United Kingdom (application no.39793/17) last Thursday, we express our full support to Charlie Gard, Chris Gard and Connie Yates. We deem ourselves obliged to voice our deepest concerns about the outrageous outcome of Charlie’s case, which infringes Europe’s most fundamental values, particularly the right to life, the right to human dignity and personal integrity.

The letter continues, challenging the ethics and conduct of the courts’ decisions:

The State, all its bodies and public authorities, are here for its citizens to help and protect them. This is the fundamental principle underlying modern democratic systems. How is it then possible that even today, in the 21st century, in times when we ourselves designate our era as one which respects fundamental values of life and human dignity, that the United Kingdom does not act in the best interest of its citizens? Is this truly the way we want to go?

We, the undersigned Members of the European Parliament, intend to answer with a clear “NO” and strongly condemn the shameful conduct that undermines these values of our civilised society.

Though there are many who see the value and necessity of saving Charlie’s life, the reality of the court’s ruling is still in the forefront, along with the hospital’s unwavering and seemingly cynical views:

Great Ormond Hospital is giving the High Court the opportunity to objectively assess the claims of fresh evidence.

Our view has not changed. We believe it is right to seek the High Court’s view in light of the claimed new evidence. [Emphasis added.]

And though GOSH officials had promised in the same statement to keep the couple “fully appraised of the situation," Yates differed, asserting, “Doctors have kept us in the dark." She added, “We can only hope that various meetings they’ve been having to which we have not been invited are positive and that they will let us take Charlie to the US for treatment.” (Emphasis added.)

It is to be hoped that Monday’s hearing will bring the positive answers that Charlie's parents are hoping for, as well as promote the ethics of a civilized society.

Photo of Charlie Gard: Facebook

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