March For Life Petitions Hospital To Let Charlie Gard Receive Treatment That Saved Two Other Children

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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March For Life and several other pro-life organizations unveiled a petition Thursday urging Great Ormond Street Hospital in England to allow Charlie Gard’s parents to seek treatment for the child elsewhere.

Jeanne Mancini, president of March For Life, stood alongside representatives from Concerned Women For America, Susan B Anthony List, Americans United for Life, Students for Life Of America, Family Research Council, in presenting a petition on Gard’s behalf.

The petition urges Great Ormond Street Hospital to allow Gard’s parents to seek nucleoside bypass treatment — which has reportedly improved the lives of two children diagnosed with similar mitochondrial diseases, despite the U.K. High Court’s claim that it had never been tested.

“The question at hand is not whether or not the treatment is going to actually work for Charlie, who has TK2 related mitochondrial depletion syndrome,” said Arina Grossu, director of the Center For Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. “We hope that it does, and we know that it has for others with less severe forms of TK2 MDS who are alive today as a result of that treatment. Why should Charlie be deprived of the chance for the same treatment?”

“The treatment is simple oral medication. That’s what it is. Why is Charlie being held hostage in this hospital,” Grossu added.

Grossu referred to the cases of Maxwell Smith and Arturo Estopiñan.

Smith, who lives in the U.K. with his parents, was diagnosed with a similar mitochondrial disease at nine months old. Doctors initially did nothing for the child until his parents, Peter and Emma Smith, researched various treatments and found nucleoside bypass therapy, which is administered in the form of oral medication. The Smiths, like the Gards, fundraised to have the treatment shipped to the U.K. Peter said the treatment has not only prolonged Maxwell’s life, who is now five years old, but that it has actually improved his condition.

“My son is doing amazingly well,” Peter told the Daily Express. “He is getting stronger and growing muscle mass. I am gobsmacked that the Gard family have effectively been blocked from trying this.”

Arturo, 6, who lives in Baltimore with his parents Arthur and Olga Estopiñan, was diagnosed with a form of mitochondrial depletion at just over a year old. Arturo also was given nucleoside bypass therapy and showed signs of improvement within three months of treatment, according to The Sun.

“We saw a difference in our son in just three months,” Arthur told The Sun. “Before the therapy he’d been unable to move his fingers or toes but after several months he could move his hands and feet. He was also more alert and awake. It was amazing to see our little boy coming back to us. There were no side effects either and after a year on the experimental medications he was well enough to come home.”

Gard’s form of TK2 MDS is rarer than the other two cases, and while there is the risk of side effects of nucleoside bypass treatment, Gard’s parents believe it is his best hope.

Representatives of March for Life and other pro-life groups said at the Thursday press conference they were encouraged by President Donald Trump and Pope Francis’ offers of support to Charlie Gard. Trump will also discuss Charlie Gard’s case and the prospect of treatment in the U.S. with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May at the G20 summit Friday.

“But the most important thing is that his parents would be able to decide how to best treat their little boy. What’s happened right now is that the state is deciding when to end treatment. It’s heartbreaking,” Mancini told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Mancini said they plan to present the petition to the hospital Friday evening and encouraged anyone willing to sign it before then.

“We want Charlie’s family to feel supported and for them to know that Charlie’s life is worth fighting for and it’s not just mom and dad who think that,” Mancini told TheDCNF. “I mean they have just thousands and thousands of people behind them.”

Update: Great Ormond Street Hospital applied for a new court hearing as of Friday in light of new evidence presented by two international hospitals concerning nucleoside bypass therapy, according to The Sun. The court could reverse the ruling that ordered Gard’s life support to be shut off and barred Gard from receiving treatment.

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