Charlie Gard to be examined by U.S. doctor who created experimental treatment

Henrietta Brewer
July 17, 2017

Michio Hirano, a professor of neurology at the Columbia University Medical Centre in NY, is scheduled to examine Charlie for the first time before discussing his condition with Great Ormond Street doctors and other medical experts.

Baby Charlie has a disease called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome - which causes muscle weakness and brain damage.

The American doctor behind an experimental treatment in the U.S. is to examine Charlie Gard on Monday and Tuesday.

The hospital gave Hirano, a doctor and professor at Columbia University Medical Center, an honorary contract, which gives him the same status as its own physicians.

But Britain's courts have refused permission on the grounds it would prolong his suffering without a realistic prospect of it helping the 11-month-old child.

Specialists at Great Ormond Street hospital do not believe that Charlie has any chance of surviving his critical illness and believe his life-support should be turned off.

The visit has been arranged as part of the latest stage of a court fight, brought by Charlie's parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard, from Bedfont, south west London, over whether he should be given experimental treatment in America.

In a statement, the London hospital said it was "right to try" the experimental treatment prepared for Charlie by "two worldwide hospitals".

But judges in several courts - most recently the European Court of Human Rights - told his parents that taking Charlie overseas was not in his best interests.

The European Court of Human Rights also decided not to intervene in the case.

So far the courts have agreed with the children's hospital but Mr Gard and Ms Yates asked Mr Justice Francis on Friday to analyse the case again because there was new evidence.

It has prompted a fierce debate around the world about medical ethics and whether the hospital treating the child or his parents should determine his fate.

Specialists at Great Ormond Street say that the therapy is experimental and will not help Charlie.

Hirano, who has been providing evidence to the High Court via video link, suggested that now, there is clinical data that were not available in April, and he thought the therapy was "worth trying".

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