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The parents of Charlie Gard today received fresh hope today in their fight to save their baby after all three were granted “American citizenship” by the US Congress.
One US politician said the offer of lawful permanent residence meant Charlie, who has brain damage from a rare genetic defect, “can come to the US for world class medical care”.
However it is understood that the 11-month-old still cannot be removed from Great Ormond Street hospital (GOSH) without the permission of the UK courts despite the US move.
Whitehall sources said the visa offer would make no difference as he is not allowed to travel to the US under an existing court direction.
Mr Justice Francis, the High Court judge who has been hearing appeals by Chariie’s parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard for him to be offered an experimental therapy by a US doctor, has to be informed of any plans to move him from GOSH.
The hospital today said it was aware of the visa offer but said it was a matter for the courts to decide.
It is understood that permanent residency would in effect be similar to Charlie holding dual citizenship, but UK law still applies.
The appropriations committee of the House of Representatives last night passed an amendment entitling each to an “immigrant visa … for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence”.
Republican congressman Kevin Yoder tweeted: “[The committee] voted today to give lawful permanent residence to #CharlieGard so he can come to the US for world class medical care.”
Fellow congressman Jeff Fortenberry tweeted: “We just passed amendment that grants permanent resident status to #CharlieGard and family so Charlie can get the medical treatment he needs.”
This comes ahead of further court hearings expected at the end of this week, and a ruling on Charlie’s future care next week.
US neurologist Dr Michio Hirano flew back to New York last night after discussing the possible use of nucleoside therapy to treat Charlie with GOSH medics.
The treatment is said to offer a 10 per cent chance of success but has never been used effectively to treat Charlie’s type of structural brain damage.
Dr Hirano, from the Columbia University Medical Center, told the High Court last week there was a “small but significant” chance of improvement.
Court proceedings have been running for months after GOSH applied to withdraw treatment and allow Charlie to “die with dignity”.
Doctors believe he is blind and deaf and unable to move. But last week his parents released a picture where he appeared to be loooking at a toy.
Ms Yates said last night that Charlie was set to undergo more tests. She added: “Our gorgeous baby boy is still stable. We are at his bedside and feel satisfied he is not suffering or in any pain.
“As Charlie’s loving parents, we are doing the right thing for our son in exploring all treatment options.”
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