In the latest instance of everyone seeming to pile on President Donald Trump, one of baby Charlie Gard’s “medics,” who communicated anonymously with the Guardian newspaper a week after the child died in hospice, blamed President Donald Trump (and Pope Francis) for unnecessarily prolonging the sick child’s last days.
The health worker said Charlie’s case became a distressing soap opera for some commentators that had prolonged the agony of Charlie’s parents. . . Charlie, the medic said, had effectively been kept alive for people such as Donald Trump, the pope and Boris Johnson, who “suddenly knew more about mitochondrial diseases than our expert consultants.”
The comments were included in an article published in The Guardian on August 4, which would have been Charlie’s first birthday had he survived. The medic continued: “We gave him drugs and fluids, we did everything that we could, even though we thought he should be allowed to slip away in his parents’ arms, peacefully, loved.” The Guardian simultaneously published the medic’s entire anonymous essay here.
Charlie Gard at age six weeks, September 2016.
Both President Trump and Pope Francis tweeted their support for the parents in early July, with President Trump saying he hoped Charlie’s parents could take their baby to New York City where Michio Hirano, M.D., a specialist in brain disorders at Columbia University Medical Center, had agreed to treat Charlie with experimental therapies. The British courts, confirming the wishes of the London hospital, prevented Charlie’s parents from taking him out of England. It is not clear why the medic included Boris Johnson in her comments since Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, had said on July 5 that baby Charlie could not be taken out of the U.K.
The Independent was even more explicit in appearing to blame President Trump. The subhead in its August 5 article read: “Health worker says they felt they were prolonging Charlie and his parents’ suffering to placate politicians like Donald Trump.”
Immediately after the parents agreed on July 24 to allow the hospital to end life support for Charlie, the judge in the case, the hospital, and the media started blaming everyone but themselves for the how the case had gotten out of control and morphed into a polarizing, controversial domestic issue, as Charlie’s parents fought his doctors and the hospital in the courts for control of his treatment for over five months.
On August 4, the Daily Mail published “Our last hours with our son,” an article that included the first interview with Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, since Charlie passed away at 3:12 p.m. on July 28 in hospice shortly after being moved from the hospital and disconnected from his ventilator. Accompanying the interview were many heartrending pictures and cell phone videos of Charlie, alone and with his parents, that had never been published before, several of them taken before he started to show signs of illness last October.
Charlie Gard and his mother, shortly after his birth
The Daily Mail’s article was considerably more sensitive and nuanced than some of the other reporting in the British MSM, which has given extensive coverage to the Charlie story. The story first came to public attention last March, after the parents were dragged into court by the hospital which wanted to pull the plug on Charlie as soon as possible against his parents’ wishes.
His life – and his illness – drew us all in, from the Pope and the President of the United States to the man and woman in the street.Why? Because the controversies surrounding Charlie’s life – and ultimate death – encapsulated a dilemma we all find almost impossible to face: who should choose when to end a life?His plight raised profound questions about the rights of parents, the right to life and the greatest question of all: should the opinion of doctors always override the instincts of parents who strongly believe their child has a chance of a good life – no matter how limited that might actually be?
The Daily Mail, and not only in this latest reporting on the Charlie Gard case, has distinguished itself with its extensive and probing coverage of news in the U.K., the United States, and internationally.
The stalemate threw into sharp focus how morally tangled and ultimately fragile are the rights of parents over the fate of their children when pitched against the might of the State.In their first interview since Charlie’s death, the couple describe that David and Goliath struggle as “truly terrifying.”
The Daily Mail quoted Charlie’s mother, Connie:
“It was terribly intimidating and stressful to find ourselves up against such a powerful hospital and one which, in many people’s eyes, can do no wrong. It’s equally terrifying to realise just how easily the rights of parents can be snatched away.”
Charlie’s parents recounted in considerable and heartbreaking detail their last days and hours with their son. They also commented on the involvement of Dr. Hirano, and how he was attacked for his efforts.
Of Michio Hirano, the American doctor who gave them hope, and whose ethics were questioned in court by Katie Gollop QC, representing the hospital, they still will not hear a bad word.Connie and Chris point out that Hirano denied claims by GOSH [Great Ormond Street Hospital] that he had financial interest in some of the medication offered, which has been used on 18 people with another form of mitochondrial depletion syndrome.They remain convinced he had their best interests at heart.“He is one of the best doctors in the world,” says Connie. “He had been trying to help us since December, and it is shocking how he was vilified by GOSH.“He was never invited to examine Charlie. Had he been, then he would have done and we believe Charlie would now be in the U.S. having treatment. His views were backed by six other doctors who all specialise in mitochondrial depletion syndrome.”
Chris Gard holds Charlie’s hand shortly before they leave the hospital for hospice, July 28, 2017
After Charlie died, his parents were allowed to take his body back to their apartment.
A member of staff asked if they would like to take Charlie home in a temperature assisted “cuddle cot,” which would allow them to have their son home with them for a few days. . . “It felt perfectly natural to leave the hospice with Charlie and take him with us. Charlie was still warm as we carried him through our front door,” recalls Connie. ‘The moment was very emotional.” Even though their son was no longer alive, “We had got our last wish to bring him home.”