The father of a little boy who has a similar type of mitochondrial depletion syndrome as Charlie Gard is speaking out in defense of Gard’s grieving parents, saying he believes they should have the right to fight for their son’s treatment — and survival.
Art Estopinan of Baltimore, Maryland, has been vocal about how his 6-year-old son, Arturito, was able to receive nucleoside therapy and other medical procedures that have helped him survive and begin to recover in some areas, the Sun reported.
This is the same treatment Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, want for their child, and Estopinan told media that the baby “deserves the opportunity to live,” according to Metro.
“We feel very fortunate to be American and not British – because if we lived in the U.K. Arturito would surely be dead by now,” Estopinan said. “How insensitive when there is a treatment which could save Charlie’s life and eminent doctors in the U.S. who are willing to help him.”
Estopinan also clashed with a doctor during an appearance on U.K. television show “Good Morning Britain,” after the medical professional said Charlie’s version of the disease is much rarer than what Estopinan’s son suffers from.
But Estopinan wasn’t willing to back down.
“My son has been on a ventilator for 5 years. He’s getting stronger. When he got home four years ago he couldn’t move anything, only his eyes. Now he can move is hands, feet and fingers, he’s a happy boy,” he said. “Sir, you are 100 percent wrong. Charlie Gard is a human being and he deserves the opportunity to live.”
Watch the debate rage below:
Estopinan said he has put Gard and Yates in contact with Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, where Arturito received medical help. On Thursday, the hospital publicly offered to either take Charlie in or to ship experimental drugs to the U.K. hospital where he is being treated, according to The New York Times.
Estopinan’s comments come as Charlie, a child currently at the center of a legal battle between his parents and a U.K. hospital, could soon be taken off life support at his doctors’ orders and against the will of his mom and dad.
Again, some doctors have said that Charlie has a much rarer form of mitochondrial depletion syndrome than does Estopinan’s son, though the Sun noted that the fall-out from the disease is similar.
While Charlie is said to have irreversible brain damage, there are some similarities in the case.
For instance, Arturito couldn’t move his fingers, hands, feet or arms and was told he had just two months to live. But experimental treatment helped profoundly and has brought him six years past the time doctors said he would live after his 2011 birth.
“We were told to go home, he’s going to die, there’s nothing you can do, don’t even look at the internet,” Estopinan recalled being told. “I looked the doctor in the eye and said, ‘Thanks for the diagnosis but we won’t go home to take him to die.'”
(H/T: The Sun)