Baby Charlie Gard could be coming to the United States for treatment. British courts that initially refused to let his parents choose his fate, have eased up suddenly, perhaps because of the outcry, and are willing to accept U.S. hospitals’ offers to help the stricken baby, as Fox News reports.
There are still many legal hurdles to overcome before Charlie can start to get treatment in the United States. A transfer of legal responsibility and appropriate travel preparations need to be made, along with FDA approval of the experimental medicine that parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates hope will save baby Charlie’s life.
Charlie’s life was previously in the hands of U.K. courts. Due to England’s single-payer state run health care system, there was almost little the parents could do once the courts handed down the ruling that the baby could be taken off life support by the hospital. A Chicago Tribune article explains how America’s private health care system doesn’t hold the same restrictions over parental choice. The U.S. health care system holds a decidedly different character, being based more on privatization.
Since the pope, President Donald Trump, Cher, and others all publically stated their support for the parents right to seek medical help for their child, the British courts have given more thought to the matter, and reconsidered the parents’ wish to seek medical help in the United States.
Jonathan Moreno, a University of Pennsylvania bioethics professor, analyzed the view of the British courts via an interview with NBC News.
“The court sees itself as the final guardian, if you will, of Charlie and Charlie’s best interests. And they have found that any effort to extend the treatment would only extend his suffering, the suffering of a baby that is going to die,” he said.
Charlie just turned 11-months-old. He’s blind, deaf, can’t move, and can’t breath without assistance. Still, the parents are trying to search for solutions and help Charlie, whatever his fate. A Vatican spokesman said that the pope weighed in “that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored,” according to the official Vatican network News.va.
New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center offered to evaluate Charlie and help to get him the experimental drugs that his parents would like to try. As The New York Times reports, the family has been talking with a U.S. doctor who has not given his real name, but who has supported the family in court.
Due to the severity Charlie’s condition, the doctor has not presented himself as 100 percent confident in being able to heal the child, but he has offered to try out drugs that he has used on less severe forms of mitochondrial depletion syndrome. He has informed the courts that at least it couldn’t make the situation worse.