US doc, specialists treating baby meet
Terminally ill man in court
LONDON, July 17, (Agencies): An American doctor specializing in treating rare genetic conditions is meeting with other specialists treating Charlie Gard, assessing the critically ill 11-month-old for the first time.
Dr Michio Hirano of Columbia University is talking with doctors from Great Ormond Street Hospital and the child’s mother, Connie Yates, on Monday and Tuesday.
The hospital gave Hirano an honorary contract, which gives him the same status as its own physicians. Under the arrangement, Hirano and another doctor, whose name is protected by court order, will be allowed to examine Charlie and have access to his medical records and hospital facilities.
The parents have fought in court for permission to take the child to the United States for treatment. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital argue that a new treatment won’t help and could make the child suffer.
Charlie suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease that has left him brain-damaged and unable to breathe unaided.
Hirano’s visit was organized during a court hearing last week after he testified the treatment was worth a try.
The case has gained global attention after interventions by US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, who both voiced support for 11-month-old Charlie on Twitter. It has prompted a heated debate about whether the hospital treating the child or his parents should determine his fate.
Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have been fighting a legal battle to send their son to the United States to undergo Hirano’s experimental therapy.
London’s High Court, the Court of Appeal and Britain’s Supreme Court have backed the hospital, a decision also supported by the European Court of Human Rights.
But last week, the case returned to the High Court after the hospital asked for a new hearing to consider new evidence from Hirano.
The US neurologist said reports of brain scans suggested that Charlie had brain disorder rather than structural damage. He said the better muscular strength would allow a better assessment of his brain condition.
“In my view my keeping Charlie on artificial ventilation will not cause significant harm because he does not seem to be in pain,” he said.
A British man who is terminally ill with motor neuron disease is asking the High Court to let him end his life.
Noel Conway is going to court Monday to challenge a ban on assisted suicide, arguing it is incompatible with human rights protections.
Conway was diagnosed with the degenerative condition in 2014 and is expected to die within a year.
He wishes to be able to enlist assistance to bring about a “peaceful and dignified” death at a time of his choosing.
A previous challenge to Britain’s ban on assisted dying by another man was rejected in 2014 by the Supreme Court. The court said Parliament should debate the issues before any decision was made by the courts.
Lawmakers have so far declined to change the 1961 Suicide Act.