UK turns down Italy’s of­fer to treat ter­mi­nally ill baby

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Bri­tain’s For­eign Min­is­ter Boris John­son told his Ital­ian coun­ter­part yes­ter­day that le­gal rea­sons pre­vented the trans­fer to Rome of a crit­i­cally-ill Bri­tish baby due to be taken off life sup­port. “Min­is­ter Boris John­son ex­pressed grat­i­tude and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the Ital­ian of­fer but ex­plained that le­gal rea­sons pre­vent Bri­tain from ac­cept­ing it,” a state­ment from the Ital­ian for­eign min­istry read. Rome’s Bam­bino Gesu hos­pi­tal, a Vat­i­can-run chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal, of­fered to treat 10 month-old Char­lie Gard af­ter Pope Fran­cis said on Sun­day that his par­ents should be al­lowed to “care for their child un­til the end”.

But Bri­tain’s for­eign min­istry said John­son had told An­gelino Al­fano, Italy’s for­eign min­is­ter, that “it was right that de­ci­sions con­tin­ued to be led by ex­pert med­i­cal opin­ion, sup­ported by the courts, in line with Char­lie’s best in­ter­ests”. The par­ents of Char­lie Gard, who suf­fers from brain dam­age, have been fight­ing to take him to the United States for an ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment for his ex­tremely rare form of mi­to­chon­drial dis­ease, but lost their case in Bri­tish courts and the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights. The courts had ruled that keep­ing the baby on life sup­port would only pro­long his suf­fer­ing as there was no hope of his re­cov­er­ing from the dis­ease, which causes pro­gres­sive mus­cle weak­ness, in­clud­ing in key or­gans such as the heart.

Great Or­mond Street Hos­pi­tal for Chil­dren in Lon­don, which has been treat­ing the baby, is­sued a state­ment on Fri­day fol­low­ing the Euro­pean court’s de­ci­sion which did not spec­ify when life sup­port would be re­moved. The baby’s plight has also at­tracted the at­ten­tion of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who on Mon­day tweeted that the US “would be de­lighted” to help. Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May also waded into the de­bate yes­ter­day af­ter be­ing ques­tioned by a fel­low MP in par­lia­ment. — AFP

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