WASHINGTON – The parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard are optimistic following Charlie’s first brain scan since April.
LifeNews.com reported Dr. Michio Hirano and an unknown colleague from the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome conducted a brain scan on the child Monday.
The results of the scan have not been made public, but LifeNews.com reported a source close to the family said that they “remain optimistic.”
Charlie suffers from a rare genetic mutation of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. He reportedly has brain damage, is blind and deaf, and needs a ventilator to breathe.
Britain’s High Court has ruled that Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is being treated, should take him off life support and let him die.
But his parents have raised more than $1.8 million to bring Charlie either to the U.S. or to Rome for treatment, and they are fighting the British government for permission even to take Charlie out of the country using their own money.
Hirano and his colleague spent six hours with Charlie on Monday, familiarizing themselves with the details of his case and examining the child personally. The Daily Mail reports Hirano, a second generation neurosurgeon, is a specialist in treating Charlie’s rare mutation of mitochondrial depletion syndrome.
Hirano has given Charlie up to a 56 percent chance of “meaningful improvement” following his experimental therapy.
Although he does consider Charlie’s condition very severe, the Daily Mail reports Hirano said he would support giving Charlie the experimental treatment, because “the alternative is that he will pass away.”
Hirano is the medical director and professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Pathology and Cell Biology. According to its website, its staff members are “world-renowned for many pioneering studies on mitochondrial and metabolic myopathies.”
The results of Charlie’s brain scan will contribute to an assessment of whether or not any brain damage has occurred. Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have maintained throughout the court battle over their son’s life that there is no evidence of substantial brain damage or that he is in pain.
Meanwhile, Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, revealed that two companies had offered to cover the travel expenses to have Charlie moved to New York.
“These two incredible offers to cover all travel expenses for Charlie Gard are just another example of the world wide support that he and his family have. Millions are hoping and praying that the British courts will allow Charlie to travel to New York City to seek care that could greatly improve his life,” he said.
WND has reported the lawyer assigned by the government to look out for Charlie’s best interests also heads an organization that believes in assisted dying, leaving the parents distressed.
According to the London Telegraph, Victoria Butler-Cole, who represents Charlie in court, is chairman of an organization called Compassion in Dying. Its sister organization, Dignity in Dying, used to be called the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.
Butler-Cole was appointed to be Charlie’s representative by Cafcass, a state organization in the United Kingdom that is supposed to act in the best interests of children involved in court cases.
The parents also have clashed with the court and hospital officials over a hospital strategy that would have kept them out of key meetings during which doctors discuss Charlie’s future.
And they clashed with the judge hearing their arguments when he claimed they had said they wanted to maintain their son’s condition as it was.
Charlie’s parents took their case public after having multiple courts rule against their attempt to obtain treatment for their son.
Subsequently, both the pope and President Trump took to social media to express support for the parents.
Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schindler Schiavo, told WND Charlie’s case is not being handled correctly. He’s president of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, and is currently in London assisting the Gard family with their court case.
Schiavo died in 2005 after a court ordered removal of her feeding tube and water at the request of her husband. Since then, Schindler has devoted himself to defending medically vulnerable people.
“Because of the nature of their fight, and the day to day uncertainty whether their child will live or die, [Charlie’s case is] reminiscent of my family’s fight to save my sister, Terri,” Schindler told WND.
Schindler believes Charlie’s struggle is vitally important in the larger struggle of parental rights against encroaching government influence in end-of-life decisions.
“I think it’s obvious to any normal observer of the news surrounding Charlie that this is a simple case of fit and competent parents being denied the right to care for their son, and an aggressive medical and legal system intent on imposing its will rather than empowering the weak and vulnerable – in this case, Charlie and his parents,” he said.
“Once these types of decisions are enshrined into its precedent – the notion, as we are seeing in Charlie’s case, that parents are not fit to determine how best to care for their son – people realize that the same thing could happen to them, and that it has literally been stated that it’s in Charlie’s best interest to die.”
Schindler sees a disturbing rise in cases like Charlie’s, which he attributes to cost-cutting initiatives.
“We currently live in a health-care system that is hyper-focused on controlling costs in terms of providing treatment,” he said. “The problem, it seems to me, is that decisions are now made on the premise that instead of providing long-term ‘costly’ care, it is much cheaper to deny care, especially if the hospital decides that the treatment is not going to have much success.
“Sadly, since we established the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network after Terri died, we are seeing an increase in situations like Charlie’s, which are often described as medical futility-denial of care cases,” Schindler continued. “Undoubtedly, with rising concerns in the costs, and bioethicists and ethics committees making quality of life judgments, persons need to understand the potential risks they may face and the real possibilities of being denied wanted, needed and helpful treatment.”
Schindler warns that people should learn more about their own medical rights, in case a situation like Charlie’s or Terri’s should ever happen to them.
“It is especially important today to know your rights as a patient,” he said. “Not only if you are admitted to the hospital, but whomever you appoint as your health-care surrogate that they know your rights, in the case you don’t have the capacities to make medical decisions yourself. It could be the difference whether you receive the care you need.”
WND reported earlier this year on the 12th anniversary of the death of Terri Schiavo. The media and her husband, Michael Schiavo, asserted Terri was in a “persistent vegetative state,” but her parents and brother, Bobby Schindler, insisted otherwise, claiming she was able to swallow, laugh and express love for her family.
In 1990, Terri, at age 26, collapsed in her St. Petersburg, Florida, home for a reason that still hasn’t been explained and was taken to a hospital by first responders who feared she was dead. She was comatose for a time, then started responding and was moved to a care center. Her family members say she was getting better before her court-ordered starvation.
WND has been reporting on the Terri Schiavo story since 2002. Read WND’s unparalleled, in-depth coverage of her life-and-death fight, including more than 150 original stories and columns.