An American doctor is heading to the U.K. next week to examine Charlie Gard, a terminally ill British baby at the center of a legal battle between his parents and a hospital where doctors recently ordered that he be taken off life support.
Dr. Michio Hirano, a neurology expert at Columbia Medical Center in New York, New York, is slated to visit Charlie at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London on Monday and Tuesday, where he will meet with doctors and assess the baby’s complicated case.
The development comes as Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have sought to have their child brought to the U.S. to undergo experimental treatment with Hirano. Doctors at Great Ormond have pushed back against that plan, despite the fact that the family has raised $2 million to try and make it happen, the Telegraph reported.
These physicians say that Charlie can’t hear, see, swallow or breathe without life support and that it is time to remove him from a ventilator so that he can “die with dignity.” Hirano, though, wants to examine the child to see if he might be a candidate to undergo further treatment.
Hirano’s identity was previously ordered sealed by Judge Nicholas Francis, the justice presiding over the case, though that restriction was lifted on Thursday. The doctor has publicly said he believes experimental therapy is worth trying, testifying to that fact via video in court on Thursday.
Francis has said he is open-minded to hearing what Hirano has to say after his visit next week, pledging to issue a ruling by July 25.
“We’ll have to wait and see the evidence,” Francis said.
Hirano has reportedly treated people with similar mitochondrial depletion disorders as Charlie’s and said that there is a 10 percent chance that experimental treatments could yield improvements for Charlie, according to Fox News.
As Faithwire previously reported, Thursday’s hearing was quite emotional, with Gard and Yates reportedly storming out of the proceedings after Francis said something they fervently disputed. The judge reportedly said two hours into Thursday’s hearing that Gard and Yates had said they didn’t want to prolong Charlie’s life in his present state unless there was hope of improvement.
Yates reportedly immediately hit back, proclaiming, “I never said that!” before the judge clarified that one of them had reportedly said as much; both she and Gard responded by walking out.
They later returned to the courtroom alongside their lawyer after the judge issued a short lunch break, CNN reported.