UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson declined an offer Wednesday from the Vatican’s Children Hospital to care for 11-month-old Charlie Gard who suffers from the rare genetic condition, mitochondrial depletion syndrome. The Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is being treated, blocked the parents efforts to seek an experimental treatment in the U.S. and last week denied the parents' final wish to take him home to die. The hospital has given the parents a little more time before they remove the baby's life support.
"Minister (Angelino) Alfano raised the case of Charlie Gard and the Pope's recent offer of treatment in Italy,” a spokesman for Johnson said. "The Foreign Secretary said this was a deeply tragic and complex case for all involved, and said it was right that decisions continued to be led by expert medical opinion, supported by the courts, in line with Charlie's best interests."
British Prime Minister Theresa May also sided with the hospital and courts over the wishes of the baby’s parents Wednesday saying that in cases like this doctors are forced to make "heartbreaking decisions."
"I am confident that Great Ormond Street Hospital have and always will consider any offers or new information that has come forward with consideration of the well-being of a desperately ill child," she said.
The case drew international attention after the UK Supreme Court and the European court of human rights rejected the parents’ plea that their critically ill baby be allowed to undergo an experimental treatment in the U.S. because the courts and hospital believed Charlie’s suffering would be prolonged by the treatment with no likely benefit.
"The domestic courts concluded that it would be lawful for the hospital to withdraw life-sustaining treatment because it was likely that Charlie would suffer significant harm if his present suffering was prolonged without any realistic prospect of improvement, and the experimental therapy would be of no effective benefit," the court said.
On Sunday, Pope Francis asked that the parents of the baby be allowed to "accompany and treat their child until the end."
"The Holy Father is following with affection and emotion the situation of little Charlie Gard and expresses his closeness to his parents. He is praying for them, in the hope that their desire to accompany and care for their own child until the end will be respected," the director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, said in a statement.
President Trump also tweeted his support of the family.
If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2017
Helen Ferre, director of media affairs at the White House, said Monday, "Upon learning of baby Charlie Gard's situation, President Trump has offered to help the family in this heartbreaking situation. Although the President himself has not spoken to the family, he does not want to pressure them in any way, members of the administration have spoken to the family in calls facilitated by the British government. The President is just trying to be helpful if at all possible."