People around the world have been following the plight of baby Charlie Gard. Diagnosed with an extremely rare RRM2B mitochondrial depletion syndrome at eight months old, Charlie was placed on life support in London at Great Ormond Street Hospital. His parents wanted to take him to the United States for an experimental treatment, acknowledging that it was a long shot in saving Charlie’s life but still wanting to give their son every chance possible. They raised £1,308,640 ($1.4 million USD), and found a doctor willing to help. Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, hoped that participating in the treatment could help other children with Charlie’s disease, even if it didn’t save Charlie himself.
Unfortunately, Great Ormond Street Hospital would not let Charlie leave. Courts ruled over and over again against Charlie’s parents, with their last hope being the European Court of Human Rights. Each ruling sided with the hospital, which wanted to remove Charlie from life support. To add insult to injury, not only were Charlie’s parents forbidden to choose a treatment plan for Charlie or decide whether his life support is continued, but they also weren’t allowed to take him home.
Little Charlie’s case has caused international outrage, with people around the world furious at courts’ infringement on parental rights, as well as the certain death sentence for an innocent baby boy. But now Charlie’s parents may have a light at the end of the tunnel: A Vatican hospital has offered to take Charlie in.
Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome announced that it had reached out to Great Ormond Street Hospital to see if it could take Charlie instead. Originally, the U.K. hospital said it was going to remove Charlie’s life support on Friday against the parents’ wishes, but the U.K. hospital has since said that it will give his parents more time with him. Mariella Enoc, president of Bambino Gesù, is not making any promises as to saving his life, but Enoc hopes the hospital can be there for the family regardless.
“We know that it is a desperate case and that there are no effective therapies,” Enoc said. “[W]e are close to the parents in prayer and, if this is their desire, willing to take their child, for the time he has left to live,” she added. Enoc also said Pope Francis’ statement on the case was similar to the hospital’s mission: “Defending human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a commitment of love that God entrusts to all men.”
There is no word on whether Charlie’s parents have accepted the offer or if Great Ormond Street Hospital will allow him to be transferred. But it is a tiny glimmer of hope for Charlie in what has been an extremely contentious battle for his life.