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Pope Francis Supports Charlie Gard and His Parents: “Respect Their Wishes”

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Charlie Gard, the 10-month-old baby in the United Kingdom who is afflicted with a rare mitochondrial disease, will have his life support withdrawn after his parents lost their appeal to transport their son to the United States for an experimental treatment.

 Now, Pope Francis is weighing in on their side — offering his prayers for Gard, and asking that his parents’ wishes be respected.

“The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the story of Charlie Gard and expresses his own closeness to his parents,” read a July 2 statement issued by Vatican spokesman Greg Burke.

“He prays for them, wishing that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”

Pope Francis also used his Twitter account to send a clear pro-life message to the world.

To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all.

When his parents asked to take their son home to die, their request was denied. Gard’s life support machines were to be turned off Friday, but the courts allowed the parents to have more time with their child before his death.

“Baby Charlie,” as he came to be known, cannot breathe on his own, has seizures, and suffered severe brain damage as a result of his disease. In March, doctors told Charlie’s parents that they did not believe that they could do anything further to treat their son, and recommended that they withdraw life support. Despite the grim diagnosis, Charlie’s parentsraised over $1 million to move him to the U.S. for treatment, but the European Court of Human Rights ruled against them on Wednesday and will not permit them to treat their son.

The court said that they did not believe that the experimental treatment in the U.S. would benefit Charlie, and that it would cause him “significant harm.”

“The domestic courts had concluded, on the basis of extensive, high-quality expert evidence, that it was most likely Charlie was being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress and that undergoing experimental treatment with no prospects of success would offer no benefit, and continue to cause him significant harm.”

On Facebook, Charlie’s parents said that they were “heartbroken” and that they were aghast that they were not permitted to choose when or where their son would die. Previously, they have said that they would like their son to pass away at home, not in a hospital. They are not permitted to take him home, and they say that the hospital is “rushing” to turn off the ventilator.

Charlie entered Great Ormond Street Hospital in London in October and was diagnosed as suffering from a form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. Subsequently his parents discovered that 18 people in the United States had been treated with an oral medication of naturally occurring compounds to remedy this rare condition. Reports have not identified the doctor who initially agreed to treat Charlie, but it was noted that his parents were aware that no cure was promised.

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