US doctor will travel to UK to assess ill infant Charlie Gard

LONDON – An American doctor will head to the UK to examine Charlie Gard, the 11-month old boy suffering from a rare genetic disorder, according to FOX News.

High Court Judge Nicholas Francis said Friday that he was “open-minded about the evidence” to come after the visit of Dr. Michio Hirano of Columbia University.

Hirano’s research focuses on mitochondrial diseases and genetic myopathies and he has treated others with conditions similar to Charlies.

On Thursday, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, Charlie’s parents, walked out of a British courtroom after arguing with the judge, but returned later in the day.

The family believes experimental treatment available in the U.S. and Italy for mitochondrial depletion syndrome has a 10 percent chance of improving his quality of life and reducing the brain damage the illness has already inflicted on the boy.

The doctor will examine whether Charlie is eligible for treatment.

The London hospital, revered as one of the world’s best children’s hospitals, has argued Charlie, who can neither see, nor hear, move, swallow or even breathe without the help of life support, should be removed from his ventilator and allowed to die with his dignity.

The hospital has said that “a world where only parents speak and decide for children and where children have no separate identity or rights and no court to hear and protect them is far from the world in which [Great Ormond Street Hospital ] treats its child patients.”

A New York-based expert on mitochondrial depletion syndrome gave evidence to the court on Thursday via video link – telling them that he believes an experimental drug available in the U.S. provided the F.D.A. approves its use – has a 10 percent chance of improving the boy’s health.

New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center have both announced they would be willing to take in Charlie – though they said a few conditions need to be met. Charlie needs to be transferred safely, “legal hurdles” cleared and it needs to “receive emergency approval from the FDA for an experimental treatment as appropriate.”

President Donald Trump and Pope Francis have shined an international spotlight on the case.

Pope Francis issued a statement insisting on the need to respect the wishes of the parents to “accompany and treat” their son to the very end.

Americans United for Life and other groups have also take the parent’s side, arguing the infant needs a “chance at life.” Petitions have circulated to offer support and others have arrived at Charlie’s bedside to pray.

The case has been compared to the 2005 case of Terri Schiavo, who suffered severe brain and was in a vegetative state after she went into cardiac arrest in her Florida home. Her parents, who wanted her kept alive, and her husband, who wanted to remove her feeding tube, were in a high-profile legal battle that ended when the courts sided with her husband.