Pope, others pray as parents of Charlie Gard end legal struggle for help

IMAGE: CNS photo/Peter Nicholls, Reuters

By Simon Caldwell

Pope Francis is praying for the parents of Charlie Gard after a U.S. doctor
told them nothing could be done to help their son.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates
announced in London’s High Court July 24 that they had ended their legal
struggle to take their baby overseas for treatment after a U.S. neurologist, Dr.
Michio Hirano, said he was no longer willing to offer Charlie experimental
nucleoside therapy after he examined the results of a new MRI scan.

Their decision means that the child,
who suffers from encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, will
receive only palliative care and most likely will die before his first birthday
Aug. 4.

Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said in a July 24 statement that Pope Francis, who had taken
a personal interest in the case, “is praying for Charlie and his parents
and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering.”

He said: “The Holy Father
asks that we join in prayer that they may find God’s consolation and love.”

The Bishops’ Conference of
England and Wales also issued a statement July 24 in which they expressed their
“deepest sympathy and compassion” for Charlie and his parents.

“It is for Charlie, his
parents and family that we all pray, hoping that they are able, as a family, to
be given the support and the space to find peace in the days ahead,” the
statement said.

“Their farewell to their
tiny and precious baby touches the hearts of all who, like Pope Francis, have
followed this sad and complex story. Charlie’s life will be lovingly cherished
until its natural end,” the statement continued.

A July 24 statement from the
Anscombe Bioethics Centre, a bioethical institute of the Catholic Church in the
U.K. and Ireland, said it was now time “to remember the preciousness of
the child at the heart of this case, and to allow his parents to be with him
until he passes from this life.”

“If further treatment may
no longer be worthwhile, Charlie’s life is inherently worthwhile, having the
dignity and irreplaceability of every human life, and this will remain so even
in the coming days,” it said.

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.

“We are about to do the
hardest thing that we’ll ever have to do, which is to let our beautiful little
Charlie go,” the parents said in their statement to the court. “Put
simply, this is about a sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy who was born with
a rare disease, who had a real, genuine chance at life and a family who love
him so very dearly, and that’s why we fought so hard for him.”

“Had Charlie been given the
treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little
boy,” they said. “We have always believed that Charlie deserved a
chance at life.”

“One thing that does give
us the slightest bit of comfort is that we truly believe that Charlie may have
been too special for this cruel world,” they continued.

Concluding the statement, the
couple said: “Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and
we always will, and we are so sorry that we couldn’t save you. We had the
chance but we weren’t allowed to give you that chance. Sweet dreams baby. Sleep
tight our beautiful little boy.”

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