Charlie Gard has been given a second chance. An American specialist is scheduled to fly to Britain next week to assess the terminally-ill infant’s condition. The judge who will decide Charlie’s fate has promised to withhold his judgment until he hears the evidence gathered by the specialist, Dr, Michio Hirano, a famed neurologist at New York’s Columbia University Medical Center
Beleaguered parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates have spent the past few months fighting for their son’s life. The award-winning children’s hospital in charge of Charlie’s care, Great Ormond Street in London, are advocates for the removal of Charlie’s life support, claiming that his quality of life will never improve.
Charlie’s parents vehemently disagree with the hospital. When they learned of an experimental treatment being offered in the U.S. that might help their son, the couple raised enough money to fund the procedure, but Great Ormond Street refused to discharge him.
“We cannot fix or cure his disease … but I’m confident we can improve cognitive function,” Dr. Hirano told reporters. “…Charlie’s apparent brain damage could actually be a muscle problem causing brain ‘dysfunction’, which the drug might fix.”
11-month-old Charlie suffers from an extremely rare disease called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. The disease attacks his muscles and progressively hinders his ability to move on his own. Currently, he’s blind, deaf, and unable to move. He needs machines to help him breathe and eat. Great Ormond Street doctors insist that the illness will eventually claim Charlie’s life.
A family spokesman recently disagreed: “Crucially, there is a growing body of medical opinion saying that, far from this being a futile case, there is an up to 10 per cent chance for baby Charlie to respond positively to this treatment, and by logical extension, for his quality of life to improve.”
Charlie’s parents are only asking for the right to treat their child. They’re not depending on public funds, nor are they fighting a hopeless cause. Dr. Hirano is a world-renowned physician who sincerely believes that Charlie’s life could be improved.
“The…day President Donald Trump tweeted to his 33.7 million followers that he would be ‘delighted’ to help Charlie, and the saga reached an entirely new audience. Suddenly, the case of Charlie Gard was being discussed in churches and by socially conservative groups across the U.S.,” TIME reports.
Multiple pro-life organizations began fighting for Charlie after they read the president’s tweet. The Susan B. Anthony List, March for Life, Concerned Women of America and Americans United for Life held a joint press conference urging their supporters to “Save Charlie Gard.”
“Who do we think we are [to] decide who gets to live and who doesn’t, whose life is valuable and whose is not?” Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, said during the event. “This is way above our pay grade. This is a matter for God.”
If Trump hadn’t involved himself the case, it’s possible that the British court system would never have agreed to a fresh hearing. The extraordinary amount of public pressure that both the court and the hospital are under might have influenced their decision to let Dr. Hirano examine the baby.
“It’s interesting to consider why a tiny baby an ocean away has captured the imagination of the United States,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said in an interview with TIME.
“I think it’s something fundamental that has really touched a chord. You don’t have to be an ethics professor or a legal scholar to understand that an institution is not a parent… and they are the only ones who will truly make the decisions that are in a child’s best interest.”