US doctor examines desperately ill Charlie Gard to test if he can have 'life-saving treatment'

Desperately ill Charlie Gard will be visited today by an American doctor who will test him for “life-saving treatment”.

The 11-month-old will be seen by Dr Michio Hirano, from the Columbia University Medical Centre, in the US.

The leading neurologist is due to attend a crunch meeting at Great Ormond Street Hospital where doctors will discuss the terminally-ill tot’s future.

Tragic Charlie was born with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, a rare and debilitating genetic condition that leaves sufferers severely mentally and physically impaired.

Doctors from Great Ormond Street, where Charlie is hooked up to life support machines, have said the tot will die from the illness.

But Dr Hirano, 55, believes his experimental theory could give Charlie “an 11% to 56% chance of clinically meaningful improvement”.

His parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, are desperate for the trial to go ahead and have raised funds to bring him to the US.

But judges in several courts – most recently the European Court of Human Rights – told his parents that taking Charlie abroad was not in his best interests.

Now Dr Hirano has been asked to examine Charlie and present his “new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition” to the High Court, in London.

Neurologist Professor Michio Hirano, an expert in Charlie’s condition
(Image: Columbia University)
Charlie is in intensive care
(Image: PA)

Great Ormond Street requested a new hearing after the New York-based neurologist claimed his treatment could now have a better chance of working.

He will meet with doctors and medical experts at the hospital to discuss his treatment today.

Last week, mum Connie won an explosive battle with Great Ormond Street as a court ruled she can attend the crunch doctors’ meeting about her son’s treatment.

Connie will be allowed to join Professor Hirano to see if the sick tot will benefit from an untested therapy.

Great Ormond Street tried to stop the 31-year-old from attending because it believed doctors would not necessarily ‘speak freely’ in her company.

The 11-month-old’s exasperated parents yelled “he’s our son!” as they clashed with opposition lawyers in the High Court for a second time on Friday.

Lawyer Victoria Butler-Cole
(Image: www.familylaw.co.uk)
Connie and Chris arriving at the Royal Courts of Justice
(Image: Splash News)

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Dr Hirano’s visit coincides with reports Charlie’s parents are concerned the lawyer appointed to represent their baby son heads a euthanasia charity.

Victoria Butler-Cole, who speaks on Charlie’s behalf in court, is chairman of Compassion in Dying, a sister organisation to Dignity in Dying.

The charity campaigns for a change in the law to make assisted dying legal in the UK.

Dignity in Dying used to be called the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

The two charities share the same chief executive and media team and trustees .

Trustees, like Mrs Butler-Cole – can only sit on one charity if they support the aims of the other.

Mrs Butler-Cole was appointed to the role by the publicly-funded state body Cafcass which acts in the best interests of children in court cases.

But parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard, from Bedfont, in west London, believe they should speak for Charlie in court hearings that are deciding his fate rather than a guardian representing him.

According to the Telegraph, a source close to the couple said: “The family find it astonishing. The implication is obvious. It looks like a profound conflict of interest.”

But Compassion In Dying said it was wrong to suggest there was any conflict of interest between Mrs Butler-Cole’s role in the case and her views on assisted dying.

The parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard
(Image: REUTERS)

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Charlie Gard’s story

Charlie, who has a rare genetic condition, has survived two plans to withdraw his life support.

His parents, of Bedfont, south-west London, thought they had reached the end of the road last week, after four courts ruled in favour of Great Ormond Street Hospital doctors who said Charlie was brain-damaged beyond hope, and that it was kinder to let him die.

But Pope Francis and Donald Trump electrified the public campaign to ‘save Charlie’ with supportive tweets.

The court heard that White House staff contacted the American doctor shortly before he made his claims about Charlie. He then spoke with Great Ormond Street on July 4.

Two days later, a letter was sent by the doctor and six other experts in Charlie’s condition to the hospital.

It led to Great Ormond Street asking the High Court to reconsider the claimed “new evidence”.

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