- The Washington Times
Monday, July 3, 2017

President Trump is coming to the aid of a terminally ill infant whom British courts and doctors are trying to remove from life support against the wishes of the parents.

In a tweet Monday, the president said America “would be delighted” to extend a helping hand to Charlie Gard.

“If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so,” the president posted.

Helen Aguirre Ferre, director of media affairs at the White House, said Mr. Trump is “trying to be as helpful as possible” to the Gard family “during this heartbreaking situation.”

“Although the President himself has not spoken to the family, he does not want to pressure them in any way, members of the administration have spoken to the family in calls facilitated by the British government,” Ms. Ferre said.

The infant’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, lost their final appeal for permission to move Charlie to the U.S. for an experimental treatment for which the family has the money, thanks to a crowdfund campaign.

On June 27, the European Court of Human Rights refused to strike down a lower-court ruling that said it was in the 11-month-old’s “best interests” to “die with dignity,” siding with Charlie’s doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Charlie suffers from mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes brain damage and progressive muscle weakness. He is unable to see or hear. He cannot breathe or move without assistance.

His parents have raised more than $1.7 million to pay for the trial therapy. But courts have blocked the family from pursuing that choice, saying Charlie may be exposed to pain and suffering, and the prospect of success is unlikely.

The couple released a video Thursday saying their doctors had also denied their last wish to take their son home with them to die.

“Our parental rights have been stripped away,” Mr. Gard said in a video. “We can’t even take our own son home to die.”

Doctors initially said they would turn off Charlie’s life support Friday, but later said they would continue to keep him alive so his family can spend time with him.

Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie has been treated since October, said it was acting in the infant’s best interests, to die.

“When parents do not agree about a child’s future treatment, it is standard legal process to ask the courts to make a decision,” the hospital said in a statement.

Mr. Trump is not the only world leader to weigh in on Charlie’s case, which has inspired protests outside of Buckingham Palace and prayer vigils in churches across Europe.

The Vatican released a statement Sunday saying Pope Francis was praying that the parents’ “desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”

In an apparent reference to Charlie’s case, the pontiff also tweeted Friday calling the defense of life “a duty of love that God entrusts to all.”

The pope’s stance appeared to go against the one adopted by his bioethics advisory panel.

In a statement Thursday, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life, cautioned against “aggressive medical procedures that are disproportionate to any expected results or excessively burdensome to the patient or the family.”

Mariella Enoc, president of the Vatican-run Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, has also offered to take Charlie as a patient, even though the case is “hopeless and that, apparently, there are no effective treatments.”

“We are close to the parents in prayer and, if this is their wish, we are willing to accept their child to be with us, for as long as there is the will to live,” Ms. Enoc said, reported the National Catholic Register.

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