Medicine

US Expert's Visit to London Could Decide Baby Charlie Gard's Fate

US Expert's Visit to London Could Decide Baby Charlie Gard's Fate

The hospital was scheduled to take the child off of life support last month after his parents lost an appeal to take him to the United States for experimental treatment.

Dr. Michio Hirano, a neurologist from Columbia University Medical Center, flew to London for meetings with Charlie's medical team per the judge's order.

Charlie suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease that has left him brain-damaged and unable to breathe unaided.

Medical experts are scheduled to gather today at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where 11-month-old Charlie is being cared for. He believes there is between an 11 and 56 percent chance the nucleoside therapy would improve the baby's muscular strength and that there is a "small but significant" chance it would also help brain functions.

Dr Hirano's research focuses on mitochondrial diseases and genetic myopathies and he has treated others with conditions similar to Charlie's.

Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have raised £1.3 million (US$ 1.7 million) to take the baby to the USA for nucleoside therapy.

The emotional case went to the UK High Court last week after the hospital requested a new hearing to consider "new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition".

The High Court has previously ruled that Charlie's life support should be removed to enable him to die with dignity.

British tabloid The Sun has reported that Pope Francis wants to give Charlie a Vatican passport so the court ruling can be overcome.

But judges in several courts - most recently the European Court of Human Rights - told his parents that taking Charlie overseas was not in his best interests.

Michio Hirano, a professor of neurology at the Columbia University Medical Centre in NY, spent around four and a half hours inside the hospital on Monday.

Francis will then consider information from Hirano to inform a decision from the court, which he has said he hopes to render by July 25.


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    AUL's president, lawyer Catherine Glenn Foster, has flown to the United Kingdom and is in court, live tweeting the proceedings . Mr Justice Francis has considered their claims at preliminary hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London.