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'There's Nothing to Lose': Charlie Gard's Parents Plead as US Lawmakers Prepare to Act

07-07-2017
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LONDON – Charlie Gard should be allowed to go to the U.S. for experimental treatment because “there’s nothing to lose,” his mother said Sunday afternoon.

The 11-month-old’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, spoke to a gathering of supporters and media, including CBN News, outside the London hospital where he’s being kept on life support as a UK court decides his fate.

The couple is expected to return to Britain's high court today to present fresh medical evidence that a new treatment could prolong the life of the 11-month-old.

The parents say he is not in pain and suffering.
 
"There is no evidence of catastrophic brain damage. His brain is affected but this medicine can get into the brain and help that," Chris Gard said.

Charlie's parents simply want their boy to have a chance to live, and they told CBN News they would be thrilled if he could come to America.

Connie and Chris also delivered a petition Sunday with more than 350,000 signatures urging London's Great Ormond Street Hospital to allow Charlie to be taken to the United States.

Charlie was born with Mitochondrial Depletion Syndrome, a genetic disorder that can weaken muscles and cause brain damage, and his plight has gained worldwide attention as British and European Courts have backed up doctors who want to turn off life support despite his parents' wishes to take him to America for experimental treatment. 

Chris Gard praised the hospital and the doctors who have cared for Charlie, but he said the experts who can treat his son’s disease are in the U.S. and he and his wife should be allowed to take him there.

“He should have had this chance a long time ago now. They said that it wasn’t fair to leave him on the ventilator for three months for a treatment they didn’t think was going to work. He’s now been left for seven months with no treatment,” Gard told The Guardian.

The experimental treatment has only a 10 percent chance of success, but it should be tried because, “he’s our son, he’s our flesh and blood. We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life. There is nothing to lose, he deserves a chance,” Yates said.

Meanwhile, two U.S. Congressmen say they will offer legislation making Charlie a permanent resident so he can come to America for experimental treatment.

In a statement, Reps. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, and Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said:

“Our bill will support Charlie’s parents’ right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the US in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life. Should this little boy to be ordered to die because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?"

The hospital was presented with a petition with 350,000 signatures demanding that Charlie be returned to his parents.
 
The couple is awaiting a new court ruling because the hospital reconsidered its decision after receiving new medical information. 
 
"Two international hospitals and their researchers have communicated to us as late as the last 24 hours that they have fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment," reads a statement from the hospital. "And we believe, in common with Charlie's parents, it is right to explore this evidence.
 
A prayer vigil was held outside the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday for Charlie. One demonstrator held a sign that said "Free Charlie." Another's said "We STAND With Charlie's Parents."
 
"Shouldn't parents have the right to decide what is best for their children?" Rev. Patrick Mahoney told CBN News. Mahoney organized the demonstration. "Sadly, we're seeing this all over the world, particularly in developing countries. We are seeing hospitals and courts make decisions for parents," he said.
 

Even world leaders have taken up the cause.

President Donald Trump said the U.S. would be "delighted" to help Charlie. He tweeted about it earlier this week.

A Vatican hospital and an unnamed hospital in the United States have also offered to care for Charlie. The hospital in the U.S. said they would take Charlie at no charge.

A New York hospital, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, extended an invitation as well.

Elizabeth Johnston talked to CBN's own Charlene Aaron about the issue.

The outspoken Johnston, known as the "Activist Mommy," has 10 children of her own. She's lost 5 in miscarriages.

She's calling on people to join in prayer for baby Charlie. "We've got to pray," she said. "We are gonna bombard heaven on behalf of the Gard family and baby Charlie."   

She's also telling people to use hashtag #PrayforCharlie and #FightforCharlie. Supporters have included #CharliesArmy and #CharliesFight in their tweets as well.

Johnston says Charlie is still alive because President Trump and Pope Francis have gotten involved after all the prayers and outcry on social media.

She believes Charlie's parents should be the ones to decide what's best for their baby.

"Nobody loves Charlie Gard more than mom and dad," she said. "There are children who are being treated for this same disease in America."

Johnston also says that this situation is a result of the government overstepping its bounds.

"The very institutions that are supposed to be in place to protect, and to protect these babies, are actually abusing their power and they are outside of their jurisdiction right now," she told CBN News.

"These parents should have the right to make the decision that is best for little baby Charlie, and they're not being given that opportunity," she said.

"When you turn your back on God, and when you do not make your healthcare decisions based on the principles outlined in God's word, this is what we see happening: abuse of power."

March for Life has taken up the cause too. They tweeted their support for Charlie on Thursday.

And even members of the European Parliament are taking a stand. 

Thirty-seven of them signed an open letter to the Prime Minister Theresa May demanding Charlie be released to his parents.

Chairman of the EPP Working Group on Bioethics and Human Dignity in the European Parliament, Miroslav Mikolášik MEP (EPP/SK), started the initiative.

"The State, all its bodies and public authorities, are here for its citizens to help and protect them. This is the fundamental principle underlying modern democratic systems. How is it then possible that even today, in the 21st century, in times when we ourselves designate our era as one which respects fundamental values of life and human dignity, that the United Kingdom does not act in the best interest of its citizens? Is this truly the way we want to go?" he said.  "We, the undersigned Members of the European Parliament, intend to answer with a clear 'NO' and strongly condemn the shameful conduct that undermines these values of our civilised society."

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