British baby Charlie Gard dies in hospice care

IMAGE: CNS/family handout, courtesy Featureworld

By Simon Caldwell

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) — Charlie Gard, the British baby whose legal battle caught the attention of the world, died July 28, just over
a week before his first birthday, his family announced.

Connie Yates, the baby’s mother, issued a brief statement
saying: “Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of
you Charlie.”

Charlie, who would have turned 1 year old Aug. 4, had been
transferred to a hospice for palliative care after Yates and his father, Chris
Gard, said July 24 they had decided to drop their legal battle to pursue
treatment overseas.

The couple wanted to take Charlie home to die, but a High
Court judge decided it was in the child’s best interest to spend his final
hours in the care of a hospice. He suffered from encephalomyopathic
mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.

The situation had caught the world’s attention, including
the attention of Pope Francis. The day the parents dropped their legal battle, Greg
Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said the pope was “praying
for Charlie and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of
immense suffering.”

After news of Charlie’s death, Pope Francis tweeted: “I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray
for his parents and all those who loved him.”

Charlie’s parents, who live in London, had fought for eight
months for medical help that might have saved the life of their son.

They raised 1.3 million pounds (US$1.7 million) to take him
abroad for treatment, but the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London had argued
that Charlie was beyond help and that it was not in his best interests to be
kept alive, triggering a protracted legal battle with the parents that led to
interventions from U.S. President Donald Trump and from the pope.

At a news conference July 25 in Rome, Mariella Enoc,
president of the Vatican children’s hospital, Bambino Gesu, said the hospital
had partnered U.S. neurologist, Dr. Michio Hirano, to study Charlie’s case. In
July, the hospital agreed with Hirano that the child’s illness had proceeded
too far for treatment, which might or might not have worked six months earlier.

But “the plug was not pulled without having tried to
respond to a legitimate request by the parents and without having examined
fully the condition of the child and the opportunities offered by researchers
on an international level,” the hospital said in a statement.

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