VATICAN CITY — The London hospital where Charlie Gard is living his last days has refused a transfer request from Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in Rome for legal reasons.
“This is sad news,” said Mariella Enoc, president of Bambino Gesu, often referred to as the “Pope’s Hospital.” The hospital had offered on Monday to transfer the baby to its facilities.
Enoc had tweeted that the Holy Father’s own words in support of Charlie “sum up well the mission of Hospital Bambino Gesú.”
“For this reason, I have asked the health director to check with the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where the neonate is recovered, if there are sanitary conditions for an eventual transfer of Charlie to our hospital. We know that the case is desperate and that, until now, there are no effective therapies,” the hospital statement said.
“We express our closeness to parents in prayer, and, if this is their desire, we are available to welcome their child with us, for as long as he lives.”
Charlie has been diagnosed with mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease thought to affect just 16 children in the world. The disease causes progressive muscle weakness and can cause death in the first year of life, though some children have lived into their teenager years with treatment.
Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, successfully conducted a fundraiser of more than $1 million to take their son to the United States for experimental treatment, but their request has been denied by the London hospital and by the courts.
On June 27, the European Court of Human Rights agreed with hospital and the British courts, finding the baby's parents' appeal "inadmissible." The Gards were also banned from taking Charlie to die at home.
While Charlie’s life support was to be disconnected on June 30, Connie Yates announced on Facebook that the hospital authorities had agreed to allow the parents to have a little more time with their son.
Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump expressed support for the baby and his family.
On Friday, the day Charlie’s life support was initially scheduled to be disconnected, the Pope used his Twitter account to send a clear pro-life message in the infant’s favor.