Evangelist Franklin Graham blamed the U.K.'s universal health care system for the situation of Charlie Gard, a dying baby.
Charlie was diagnosed with a fatal condition, mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, but his parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates want to take him to the U.S. for a neurologist's experimental therapy, notes The New York Times.
The London hospital fought the parents in court because the infant's doctors have said the 11-month-old baby would not survive and would endure unnecessary suffering during treatments. The hospital repeatedly won court rulings, but has garnered criticism from around the world.
The American neurologist has tried the experimental nucleoside therapy on mice and on 18 people with the TK2 gene mutation, but not on a human, like Charlie, who has a RRM2B gene mutation.
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On July 10, Graham defended the parents' rights to take their dying infant to the U.S. for a procedure that has never been tried on a human in Charlie's situation, which he blamed on the UK's "socialized medicine":
As a parent and a grandparent, this is so alarming. Little Charlie Gard’s parents deserve the right to bring him to the U.S. to try to find treatment for him -- that shouldn’t even have to be discussed! It’s their prerogative. That the U.K. hospital or the government would not allow them to make the decisions about Charlie's life and medical care is unfathomable.
Days and days have passed that he could’ve been being treated here in America -- this is a tragedy. They have now delivered a petition with 350,000 signatures to the hospital, saying that they should release Charlie as the parents request. This is one of the dangers of socialized medicine.
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We need to stay as far away from this as possible here in the United States as healthcare is reorganized! Charlie's case may be back in court today, so join me in praying for him and for his mom and dad, Connie Yates and Chris Gard. Let them know you're praying in the comments below.
In 2014, The Commonwealth Fund ranked the U.S. last in health care among 11 industrialized nations, including the U.K. Many of those countries have a form of socialized medicine.
The U.S. came in last again in a 2016 survey by The Commonwealth Fund, and was once again bested by countries with government health care for all.
The hospital released a statement on July 7, three days before Graham's call for prayer, that said it is willing to allow the parents to pursue the experimental therapy:
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children has today applied to the High Court for a fresh hearing in the case of Charlie Gard in light of claims of new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition.
We have just met with Charlie’s parents to inform them of this decision and will continue to keep them fully appraised of the situation. 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.
And we believe, in common with Charlie’s parents, it is right to explore this evidence. Great Ormond Street Hospital is bound by the ruling of the High Court which expressly forbids us from transferring Charlie for nucleoside therapy anywhere.
This ruling has been upheld by the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. It has also been supported unequivocally by some of the world’s most distinguished clinicians and scientists.
The ruling also states that it is in Charlie’s best interests for artificial ventilation to be withdrawn, and for his clinicians to provide him with palliative care only... Great Ormond Street Hospital is therefore giving the High Court the opportunity to objectively assess the claims of fresh evidence.
It will be for the High Court to make its judgment on the facts. Charlie’s condition is exceptionally rare, with catastrophic and irreversible brain damage. Our doctors have explored every medical treatment, including experimental nucleoside therapies. Independent medical experts agreed with our clinical team that this treatment would be unjustified.
Not only that, but they said it would be futile and would prolong Charlie's suffering. This is not an issue about money or resources, but absolutely about what is right for Charlie. Our view has not changed. We believe it is right to seek the High Court’s view in light of the claimed new evidence. Our priority has always been, and will always be, the best interests of Charlie Gard.
Sources: The New York Times, Franklin Graham/Facebook, The Commonwealth Fund (2), Great Ormond Street Hospital / Photo credit: Matt Johnson/Flickr, Facebook via Independent, Leszek Janczuk/Wikimedia Commons