Trump Offers to Help Terminally Ill Baby Charlie Gard after Reaching out on Twitter

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President Donald Trump has expressed an interest in the international case of Charlie Gard, a 10-month-old terminally ill infant who has been ruled to be taken off of life support. The case of keeping Charlie alive has been controversial, with three separate British courts ruling that keeping the infant on life support would cause him unnecessary harm. While President Trump didn’t outwardly address where he stands on the ruling, his extension of a hand to Charlie’s parents signals support – and disagreement with the court rulings.

Trump’s tweet has thrust him into a large international debate, with many people directly opposing the courts’ decision. A fundraising campaign was set up to help Charlie’s parents pay for a possible experimental treatment in the United States, raising over $1.3 million thus far. The fundraising that has already occurred means that a donation from Trump wouldn’t mean much, leading many to wonder exactly what his support of Charlie’s parents entails. His statement did not necessarily make any promises of bringing Charlie to the U.S., beginning with the rather vague “If we can help”…
White House representatives clarified the tweet to the Guardian, with Director of Media Affairs, Helen Aguirre Ferré, releasing a statement on the President’s offer:“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. Due to legal issues, we cannot confirm the name of doctor or hospital where the baby could be treated in the United States.”
While no details have been confirmed yet, the statement suggests that plans are being put into place to get Charlie the experimental U.S. treatment that his parents have been fighting for.Charlie is in the “terminal stages” of a disease called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, in which affected areas experience a drop in mitochondrial DNA, meaning that he gets very little energy to his muscles, kidney, and brain. A disease that is typically fatal in infancy or early adulthood, there is still no cure for mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, only treatments that may reduce symptoms.
After Charlie’s doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital applied for permission to have his ventilator turned off, Chris Gard and Connie Yates began a series of court pleas, asking that their son be kept alive. After the British courts ruled that Charlie be taken off of life support, the parents went to the European Court of Human Rights. On June 30th, the court rejected the parents’ plea to intervene in their son’s case, stating that Charlie should be “allowed to die with dignity”.After a final emotional plea, Great Ormond Street Hospital agreed to grant Charlie’s parents more time with their son to say goodbye. In their final plea, they asked that Charlie be allowed to pass away at home, a request which was denied. Pope Francis has since come forward in support for the parents wish, apparently praying that they be able to “treat their child until the end”.
While the show of U.S. support is likely appreciated by Charlie’s parents, Trump’s helping hand may appear motivated to others. Many are accusing the President of using the infant’s terminal illness in order to send a message against the U.K.’s publicly-funded healthcare system. The support rolls out just as Trump attempts to push forward his own healthcare bill.