Trump offers help for British baby on life support

WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump has offered United States help to a British baby with a rare genetic disorder who is due to be taken off life support after courts ruled further treatment would prolong his suffering.

Pope Francis has also expressed his support for the parents of the baby, saying he hoped doctors would allow them to "care for their child until the end".

"If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the UK and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so," Mr Trump tweeted.

The parents of Charlie Gard, who is 10 months old and has brain damage, were fighting to take him to the US for an experimental treatment for his extremely rare form of mitochondrial disease, but lost their case in British courts and the European Court of Human Rights.

The courts ruled that keeping the baby on life support would only prolong his suffering as there was no hope of him recovering from the disease, which causes progressive muscle weakness, including in key organs such as the heart.

White House director of media affairs Helen Ferre said: "President Trump has offered to help the family in this heartbreaking situation.

"Although the President himself has not spoken to the family, he does not want to pressure them in any way.

Ten-month-old Charlie Gard, who suffers from a rare genetic condition, with his parents, Ms Connie Yates and Mr Chris Gard. British courts have ruled that Charlie should be taken off life support as further treatment would prolong his suffering.
Ten-month-old Charlie Gard, who suffers from a rare genetic condition, with his parents, Ms Connie Yates and Mr Chris Gard. British courts have ruled that Charlie should be taken off life support as further treatment would prolong his suffering. PHOTO: WWW.GOFUNDME.COM/PLEASE-HELP-TOSAVE-CHARLIESLIFE

"Members of the administration have spoken to the family in calls facilitated by the British government," she said.

The President's support followed a statement by the Vatican on Sunday.

"The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the affair of little Charlie Gard and expresses his closeness to his parents," it said.

Charliesfight.org, a page set up to solicit donations for the baby's treatment in the United States, noted: "Two of the most powerful men in the world want to give Charlie Gard his chance."

@Fight4Charlie, an associated account, responded: "Thanks @realDonaldTrump for your support - @theresamay do the right thing and #savecharliegard."

The case has tugged at heartstrings in Britain, where more than £1.3 million (S$2.3 million) has been raised through crowdfunding platform GoFundMe to pay for the experimental treatment.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2017, with the headline 'Trump offers help for British baby on life support'. Print Edition | Subscribe