POPE FRANCIS HAS expressed his support for the British parents of a baby with a rare genetic disease, saying he hoped doctors would allow them to “care for their child until the end”.
Ten-month-old Charlie Gard, who has brain damage, is shortly to be taken off life support after a ruling against his parents by British courts and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
His parents had been fighting to take him to the United States for treatment for his form of mitochondrial disease, but the courts ruled that he should be allowed to die with dignity
The Vatican said in a statement:
The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the affair of little Charlie Gard and expresses his closeness to his parents.
He prays for them, hoping that their desire to accompany and care for their child until the end is not disregarded.
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, which has been treating Charlie, issued a statement on Friday following the ECHR’s decision which did not specify when life support would be removed.
“Together with Charlie’s parents we are putting plans in place for his care, and to give them more time together as a family,” it said, asking for privacy for the baby’s parents.
The courts had ruled that keeping the baby on life support would only prolong his suffering as there was no hope of his recovering from the disease which causes progressive muscle weakness, including in key organs such as the heart.
In a public Facebook post shared last Thursday, his parents said they are “utterly heartbroken” and “spending our last precious hours with our baby boy”.
“We’re not allowed to choose if our son lives and we’re not allowed to choose when or where Charlie dies.
“We and most importantly Charlie have been massively let down throughout this whole process. Charlie will die tomorrow knowing that he was loved by thousands.”
The couple thanked members of the public for their support.
A small group of hundred protesters held a demonstration outside the gates of Buckingham Palace in London yesterday, shouting “Save Charlie Gard” next to a banner that read “Murder”.