WORLD REACHES OUT TO CHARLIE
After Trump vows to help desperately sick boy, the Pope’s hospital says: Let us take care of him
THE torment of Charlie Gard has brought promises of help from around the world.
In an extraordinary move, baby Charlie was yesterday offered treatment at the Pope’s own hospital in Rome. Pope Francis’s spokesman vowed to ‘overcome’ British legal rulings which have condemned the baby to death.
It came hard on the heels of a pledge from President Donald Trump on Twitter that the US would be ‘delighted’ to help the 11-month-old boy. Pop stars also lobbied Theresa May to take a stand. As the fate of their child touched hearts across the globe, a spokesman for Charlie’s parents Connie Yates, 31, and Chris Gard, 32, said: ‘The White House has been in talks with Charlie’s family, Great Ormond Street Hospital, the UK Government, the
AN AMERICAN boy with a similar genetic condition to Charlie Gard was giving hope to the British child’s parents last night.
Six-year-old Arturito Estopinan is fighting his condition with the pioneering drugs therapy that is being denied to 11-month-old Charlie.
His father, Art Snr, said: ‘We feel very fortunate to be American and not British – because if we lived in the UK, Arturito would surely be dead by now.
‘We are beyond shocked that doctors in the UK are saying Charlie should “die with dignity”. How insensitive, when there is a treatment which could save Charlie’s life and eminent doctors in the US who are willing to help him.’
Art Jr has the TK2 strain of mitochondrial syndrome, which is similar to Charlie’s. He was given two months to live in 2011 and could only move his eyes, but six years later he can move his hands, fingers, feet and arms and is a ‘strong and happy boy’. Mr Estopinan, 51, a government consultant from Baltimore, said he and his wife Olga, 43, ‘know first-hand the battles’ that Charlie’s parents – Connie Yates, 31, and Chris Gard, 32 – were fighting. They had also been told there was no treatment or cure for Art.
Although Art still needs artificial ventilation and round-the-clock care from a team of nurses, his father added: ‘He is truly a blessing in our lives and words cannot express what a tremendous joy it is to have him.’
Mr Estopinan appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain yesterday and was involved in a row with the show’s GP Dr Hilary Jones, who said: ‘Sometimes real parental love is letting go.’ A furious Mr Estopinan replied: ‘Charlie Gard is a human being who deserves the chance to live’, adding: ‘What right do you have to play God?’
The two families are in close contact and Miss Yates said: ‘Art’s extraordinary and inspirational story shows that there is hope for Charlie. The support his parents are giving us is helping us find the strength to carry on fighting for Charlie too.’
Both boys have mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a debilitating condition which saps energy from the muscles and organs. Arturito has a rare type called TK2, of which only 83 cases have been recorded worldwide. Charlie’s type is even rarer and he is the 16th known sufferer. The other 15 have died.
Both boys need artificial ventilation because their lungs are too weak, and are fed through tubes, but Art is growing stronger with the treatment.
There is no accepted cure for mitochondrial disease, but doctors in the US are trialling a treatment called nucleoside therapy. In Art’s case, it has given him a new lease of life, and his parents hope his growing strength will lead to him being able to survive unaided.
When Art was admitted to hospital and put on a life-saving artificial ventilator, his parents desperately scoured the internet and eventually stumbled across the nucleoside drug therapy.
Within days, Art became the first person in the US to have the therapy – and after a year he was well enough to return home.
‘What right do you have to play God?’
Little battler: Arturito with his parents, Art and Olga Estopinan, before he got ill