A Manhattan hospital has agreed to take on a seriously ill British baby whose story has attracted international attention.
Officials at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center said in a statement they would admit and evaluate baby Charlie Gard for an experimental treatment if the infant’s family can make arrangements to get him there safely from the United Kingdom.
The treatment also depends on the family clearing legal hurdles and approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The hospital said it also was willing to ship the experimental drug to Charlie’s doctors.
The 11-month-old baby has a condition called mitochondrial depletion syndrome — a rare incurable genetic condition that damaged his brain — and cannot breathe on his own. Charlie is now on life support. Controversy, with input from Pope Francis and President Donald Trump, has brewed over whether the baby should receive further treatment.
British and European courts have sided with the original decision by the London hospital that the 11-month-old’s life support should be turned off, saying therapy would not help and would cause more suffering. The family, however, wants to try an experimental treatment available in the United States.
The baby’s life support was initially to be pulled last week but the family was given more time by staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Great Ormond Street Hospital said it had applied for a new court hearing in light of new evidence.
The case is headed back to the High Court in London on Monday. The Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital also has offered to treat Charlie.
The hospital is currently bound by court rulings barring it from sending Charlie anywhere for the experimental treatment, nucleoside therapy. The rulings also say the baby’s artificial ventilation should be withdrawn and he should receive only palliative care.
The hospital said a court should assess the claims of fresh evidence and “make its judgment on the facts.”
“Our priority has always been, and will always be, the best interests of Charlie Gard,” the hospital said.
Britain’s courts have been consistent in the case. Three courts, including the Supreme Court, agreed that the experimental treatment would be futile and may “well cause pain, suffering and distress to Charlie.” The parents then took their case to the European Court of Human Rights, which refused to intervene and endorsed the British judges’ decision.