July 3, 2017 / 5:38 PM / 22 days ago

Trump offers to help terminally ill UK infant in tweet

3 Min Read

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump offered help to a terminally ill infant an ocean away in a Twitter post on Monday after his parents lost a legal battle to give him experimental therapy in the United States.

The baby, 10-month-old Charlie Gard, has been at the center of a long legal battle between his parents, who wanted him to undergo an American therapy trial, and specialists at the hospital in London who said the treatment was experimental and would not help.

"If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so," Trump said in a morning Twitter post.

    The baby, who will be 11 months old on Tuesday, suffers from a rare genetic disorder that has left him unable to move his arms, legs or to breathe unaided. He has a form of mitochondrial disease – a genetic condition that causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage.

Trump waded in to the complex case as his fellow Republicans in the U.S. Senate struggled to reach consensus on a healthcare reform plan that would slash spending on healthcare for low-income Americans.

It was unclear how the U.S. president would propose to help in the case.

The baby's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, launched a fundraising appeal to help pay for his doctors' bills in the United States. They have raised 1.3 million pounds ($1.68 million) from more than 83,000 donations, according to his Gofundme page.

    Britain's Supreme Court ruled last month that going to the United States for treatment would prolong the baby's suffering without any realistic prospect of helping him. The court would not allow an American doctor found by the couple to be identified and details about the therapy were not available.

    The parents asked the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the ruling, but that court last week declined to intervene.

Trump weighed in on Charlie Gard a day after Pope Francis.

“The Holy Father is following the case of little Charlie Gard with affection and emotion and expresses his closeness to his parents. He is praying for them, hoping that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored,” according to statement from the Vatican on Sunday.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman, asked about the Trump tweet, said it was a very sensitive case and their thoughts are with Charlie’s family.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Jeff Mason in Washington, Andrew MacAskill and Kylie MacLellan in London, and Philip Pullella in Rome; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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