WORLD REACHES OUT TO CHAR­LIE

Af­ter Trump vows to help des­per­ately sick boy, the Pope’s hos­pi­tal says: Let us take care of him

Scottish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Sam Green­hill Chief Re­porter

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?’

Pic­ture: FEA­TURE WORLD

Lit­tle bat­tler: Ar­tu­rito with his par­ents, Art and Olga Estopinan, be­fore he got ill

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