Bri­tish hospi­tal worker de­fends staff in baby Char­lie Gard case

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A mem­ber of the med­i­cal team that treated Char­lie Gard has de­fended the care they gave the Bri­tish in­fant who died of a rare ge­netic disease while crit­i­ciz­ing po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious lead­ers for pro­long­ing the fam­ily’s suf­fer­ing by in­ter­ven­ing in a case they didn’t un­der­stand. The health care worker wrote in an anony­mous opin­ion piece pub­lished in the Guardian news­pa­per Satur­day that staff at Great Or­mond Street Hospi­tal in Lon­don “loved this child to bits,” but reached the point where they could do noth­ing more to help Char­lie.

The worker ar­gued that the baby suf­fered longer than he should have be­cause of com­ments Pope Fran­cis, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and U.K. For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son made about his case. The so­cial me­dia storm that fol­lowed their in­ter­ven­tions trig­gered threats against hospi­tal staff, the worker said. “You have contributed to the fam­ily’s pain, you have been fight­ing a cause you know noth­ing about,” the worker wrote. “It’s not been help­ful to any­one.”

Char­lie suf­fered from mi­to­chon­drial de­ple­tion syn­drome, which left him brain dam­aged and un­able to breathe un­aided. His par­ents wanted to take him to the United States for ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment and his case ended up in the courts when doc­tors op­posed the plan, say­ing the untested ther­apy wouldn’t help Char­lie and might cause him to suf­fer.

He died July 28, a week be­fore his first birth­day, after a judge or­dered he be taken off a ventilator at Great Or­mond Street Hospi­tal and moved to a hospice for his fi­nal hours. In an in­ter­view pub­lished Satur­day, Char­lie’s par­ents told the Daily Mail news­pa­per their son died 12 min­utes after his res­pi­ra­tor was turned off. Par­ents Chris Gard and Con­nie Yates then took Char­lie home in a tem­per­a­ture-con­trolled “cud­dle cot.”

Global at­ten­tion

“Once home, it was lovely to sit and watch him ly­ing there like any other baby,” the Mail quoted Yates as say­ing. “Not sur­rounded by equip­ment and ma­chin­ery, with­out any­thing ob­scur­ing his lovely face.” Char­lie’s case made it all the way to Bri­tain’s Supreme Court and along the way be­came a flash­point for de­bates on the rights of chil­dren and par­ents, health care fund­ing, the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of med­i­cal work­ers and the role of the state.

The case caught the at­ten­tion of Trump and the pope in late June after the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights re­fused to in­ter­vene. The lead­ers tweeted sup­port for the fam­ily, trig­ger­ing a surge of grass­roots ac­tion, in­clud­ing a num­ber of US right-to-life ac­tivists who flew to Lon­don to sup­port Char­lie’s par­ents. Great Or­mond Street soon re­ported that its doc­tors and nurses were re­ceiv­ing se­ri­ous threats be­cause of the case. Lon­don po­lice were called in to in­ves­ti­gate.

In the Guardian ar­ti­cle, the health care worker de­scribed the “soap opera” that fol­lowed the com­ments from Trump and the pope, ar­gu­ing that the med­i­cal team kept do­ing ev­ery­thing they could for Char­lie even though they be­lieved “he should be al­lowed to slip away in his par­ents’ arms, peace­fully, loved.” “We didn’t do this for Char­lie. We didn’t even do it for his mum and dad. Re­cently, we did this for Don­ald Trump, the pope and Boris John­son, who sud­denly knew more about mi­to­chon­drial dis­eases than our ex­pert con­sul­tants,” the staff mem­ber wrote. “And we did it for the key­board war­riors who thought it was OK to write about the ‘evil’ med­i­cal staff at Great Or­mond Street, even though we were still there next to Char­lie, car­ing for him as best we could, as we al­ways had.”

The med­i­cal worker also wrote about the toll Char­lie’s case took on the en­tire staff of the hospi­tal. Even friends asked, “Why are you try­ing to kill this child?” Par­ents of other young pa­tients at the hospi­tal were ner­vous about whether the right thing was be­ing done for their chil­dren. The worker con­cluded by im­plor­ing ev­ery­one on so­cial me­dia to think twice be­fore com­ment­ing on “how aw­ful we are.”

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