British Prime Minister Theresa May Refuses to Intervene to Save Charlie Gard

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 5, 2017   |   10:14AM   |   London, England

World leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis have offered their support for British infant Charlie Gard, but his own prime minister has not.

While British Prime Minister Theresa May offered her sympathies to Charlie and his family on Wednesday, she also would not commit to intervening in his case, according to The Guardian.

Charlie is suffering from a rare disease, and his parents want to take him to the United States for an experimental treatment. His case gained international attention as his parents fought a series of court battles for their son, but ultimately lost. Last week, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against his parents’ appeal to take him to the U.S. A British court also ruled that his life support can be removed against his parents’ wishes.

May told members of Parliament that she feels for Charlie and his parents, but she also is “confident” that Great Ormond Street Hospital, which is treating Charlie, cares about his well-being and is considering all medical information about his condition.

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“It is an unimaginable position for anybody to be in and I fully understand and appreciate that any parent in these circumstances will want to do everything possible and explore every option for their seriously ill child,” May said. “But I also know that no doctor ever wants to be placed in the terrible position where they have to make such heartbreaking decisions.”

May’s comments came in response to questions from MP Seema Malhotra, the local representative for Charlie and his parents, the Mirror reports.

Here’s more from the Mirror:

[Malhotra] said there were “differing views” over Charlie’s chances of survival, but said “doctors would be able to say within three months whether Charlie is responding and whether that change is clinically beneficial.”

She asked: “If there is any room for discretion within the court rulings for Great Ormond Street to allow Charlie to leave and to transfer his care to doctors at Columbia University, and he is sufficiently stable to receive treatment, would the Prime Minister do all she can to bring the appropriate people together to try and make this happen.?”

Theresa May offered her sympathy, but did not commit to getting involved in the row.

Charlie suffers from a rare mitochondrial disease and brain damage. His parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, raised more than $1 million to pay for his medical care. However, Charlie’s parents now have exhausted their legal options as court after court has denied them the ability to pursue potentially life-saving care and medical treatment for their son.

A U.S. doctor and a Catholic hospital in Italy both offered to care for Charlie if he can be transferred.

Prayers and support for Charlie have been flooding in from across the world, including from Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump. Hundreds of people protested the court ruling in London over the weekend.

In October, Charlie entered Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and was diagnosed with a form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. His parents discovered that 18 people in the United States have been treated with an experimental medication to remedy the rare condition. Reports have not identified the doctor who agreed to treat Charlie, but it was noted that his parents were aware that no cure was promised.

Charlie’s parents have been advocating for their son for months. In March, however, Charlie’s doctors recommended that they remove his life support, saying there was nothing more they could do to help him. The little boy suffered brain damage from his disease and cannot breathe on his own.

But Charlie’s parents took the matter to court, and eventually appealed their case to the European Court of Human Rights. On Wednesday, the high court ruled against them and will not permit them to seek alternative treatments for their son, according to The Guardian.

The judges said they did not think Charlie would benefit from the experimental treatment, and it could cause him greater pain and suffering.

“The domestic courts had concluded, on the basis of extensive, high-quality expert evidence, that it was most likely Charlie was being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress and that undergoing experimental treatment with no prospects of success would offer no benefit, and continue to cause him significant harm,” they stated in the ruling.

His parents said they are “heartbroken.” They said they are not even allowed to take him home.

On Monday, Charlie’s mother posted a message on Twitter saying that they have not completely given up.

“If he’s still fighting, we’re still fighting!!!” she wrote.

The hospital could turn off Charlie’s life support within a week.