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Charlie Gard: US specialist to examine baby ahead of further hearings on experimental treatment

Charlie's parent continue in their court battle for experimental treatment

An American specialist who has offered to treat Charlie Gard is expected to examine the terminally-ill baby for the first time over the next two days.

Michio Hirano, a professor of neurology at the Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, is scheduled to visit Charlie at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and discuss the case with doctors treating Charlie plus other medical experts.

The visit has been organised as part of the latest stage of a court fight over whether 11-month-old Charlie should be given experimental treatment in America.

(Image: PA)

Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates , from Bedfont, want a judge to rule that their son, who suffers from a rare genetic condition, should be allowed to undergo a therapy trial overseen by Dr Hirano in New York.

Specialists at Great Ormond Street, where Charlie is being cared for, say the therapy is experimental and will not help.

They say life support treatment should stop.

(Image: PA)

Charlie's parents have already lost battles in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London.

They have also failed to persuade European Court of Human Rights judges to intervene.

But the couple say there is new evidence and want Mr Justice Francis to carry out a fresh analysis of their case.

(Image: Trinity Mirror)

In April, the judge ruled in favour of Great Ormond Street and said Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity.

Mr Justice Francis has considered the couple's latest claims at preliminary hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London over the last few days.

He is due to stage further hearings later this month following Dr Hirano's visit.

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Doctor arrives at GOSH

The doctor has attended a meeting at Great Ormond Street Hospital which will help decide if the 11-month-old goes to the US for treatment.

Great Ormond Street has given Dr Hirano an honorary contract, which the hospital said gives him the same status as its own physicians.

This means he can examine Charlie, and has full access to his medical records and the hospital’s facilities.

GOSH statement

Here is the latest statement from Great Ormond Street Hospital

At the heart of Charlie’s parlous and terrible condition is the question, how can it be in his best interests for his life-sustaining treatment to be withdrawn?

Charlie has been treated on GOSH’s neonatal intensive care unit for many months now and very sadly, the question that arises for him arises for other patients and families at the hospital too.

GOSH has treated over a thousand patients with mitochondrial disease and offers pioneering treatment, including nucleoside treatment, where appropriate.

Despite all the advances in medical science made by GOSH and the other hospitals around the world, there remain some conditions that we cannot cure and we cannot ameliorate.

It has been and remains the unanimous view of all of those caring for Charlie at Great Ormond Street that withdrawal of ventilation and palliative care are all that the hospital can offer him consistent with his welfare.

That is because in the view of his treating team and all those from whom GOSH obtained second opinions, he has no quality of life and no real prospect of any quality of life.

'No quality of life'

PA reports that Great Ormond Street Hospital medics treating Charlie Gard say the terminally-ill baby has “no quality of life” and “no real prospect of any quality of life”.

Specialists say that despite advances in medical science, there are still some conditions that “we cannot cure and we cannot ameliorate”.

Michio Hirano is scheduled to visit Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London, where Charlie is being cared for, on Monday and Tuesday. Dr Hirano is due discuss Charlie’s condition with doctors treating the little boy and with independent specialists.

The visit has been organised as part of the latest stage of a court fight over whether Charlie should be given experimental treatment in America.

Judges have heard that that Charlie, who was born on August 4 2016, has a form of mitochondrial disease, a condition that causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage.

Dr Hirano has offered an experimental therapy called nucleoside.

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