LONDON — President Donald Trump on Monday tweeted his support for Charlie Gard, a 10-month-old terminally sick baby who is on life-support in a British hospital and has been at the center of a complex ethics case.
The president wrote: "If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so."
Charlie has a rare genetic condition, an inherited mitochondrial disease referred to generally as “MDDS," and can't move his arms or legs or breathe unaided. His condition is terminal.
His parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have raised more than $1.8 million to bring him to the U.S. for experimental therapy.
However, three British courts ruled that further treatment would cause Charlie "significant harm" if his suffering is prolonged and that it would be in his best interest to be moved onto palliative care — in other words, to keep him comfortable until he dies. Specialist doctors have said the proposed U.S. therapy wouldn't make any difference to Charlie's condition.
London's Great Ormond Street Hospital says it is standard procedure to ask courts to make a decision when parents and the hospital do not agree about a child’s future treatment.
The parents responded to Trump’s surprise tweet Monday by thanking the president for his support and asking British Prime Minister Theresa May to “do the right thing” and “save” their son.
It wasn’t clear if Trump was aware of the court rulings, or if he was merely echoing support expressed Sunday by Pope Francis.
A White House official said members of the Trump administration, but not the president, have spoken to the parents in calls facilitated by the British government. The official said the president wants to be helpful without placing undue pressure on the family.
The Vatican said Sunday that the pontiff was following the case "with affection and emotion" and "expresses his own closeness to his parents.”
Pope Francis hopes “that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored," it said.
The baby's mother said previously that, should the money raised for Charlie not be used on his treatment, it will be offered to support other children with similar genetic disorders.