The American neurologist criticised by Great Ormond Street has today admitted a body scan done when he flew to London extinguished all hope for Charlie Gard.
Michio Hirano also denied claims he has cash invested in the drug he offered to Charlie. The professor said his experimental nucleoside treatment had a chance of helping the sick child and he offered to treat him in the US. But he was accused of giving Charlie’s family false hope and lawyers for Great Ormond Street said they were concerned to learn the doctor had a financial interest in some of the drugs he proposed to use.
The children’s hospital also said it was disappointed he had been so optimistic when he had not examined Charlie himself, or read his latest medical records or seen his brain scans. Hitting back today Dr Hirano, who works at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, claims that he now has no investment in the drug Charlie’s parents wanted him to have.
Speaking for the first time he said: ‘As I disclosed in court on July 13, I have relinquished and have no financial interest in the treatment being developed for Charlie’s condition’. The court case over Charlie’s treatment was reopened after Dr Hirano and six other experts said they had new evidence that could affect the judge’s earlier decision that the boy would not benefit from further treatment and should be allowed to die.
The US neurologist flew to London to examine the little boy along with a doctor from the Pope’s children’s hospital in Rome.
Dr Hirano said today: ‘I became involved in Charlie’s case when I was contacted by his parents, and I subsequently agreed to speak with his doctors to discuss whether an experimental therapy being developed in my lab could provide meaningful clinical improvement in Charlie’s condition.
‘Unfortunately, a MRI scan of Charlie’s muscle tissue conducted in the past week has revealed that it is very unlikely that he would benefit from this treatment’. It came as Charlie’s parents will return to the High Court today in their battle to take him home to die.
Pope’s hospital insists Charlie should have had the chance to try experimental drugs – but now it’s ‘too late’. A Vatican pediatric hospital says experimental therapy ‘could have been an opportunity’ to help Charlie Gard, but it was too late to start care for the critically ill baby.
Bambino Gesu Hospital had offered to treat the 11-month-old boy while his parents were trying to persuade UK courts to tell Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to release the boy for treatment in the United States.
Hospital chiefs said in a statement that they are not in a position to know what might have happened six months ago and cannot know if Charlie would have responded to the experimental therapy.
Hospital director Mariella Enoc (pictured) told reporters that they carried out a clinical evaluation and offered medical assistance free of charge.
Great Ormond Street believe he should go to a hospice – or stay with them – because his ventilator won’t fit through the front door and doctors fear he could suffer pain or a ‘distressing or disordered death’
Before his defence Great Ormond Street’s lawyer, Katie Gollop QC, said there were no grounds for such optimism and she questioned why Charlie’s parents were led to believe Dr Hirano’s nucleoside bypass therapy could help.
In a statement to the High Court, she said: ‘When the hospital was informed that the professor had new laboratory findings causing him to believe NBT would be more beneficial to Charlie than he had previously opined, GOSH’s hope for Charlie and his parents was that that optimism would be confirmed.
‘It was, therefore, with increasing surprise and disappointment that the hospital listened to the professor’s fresh evidence to the court.
‘On 13 July he stated that not only had he not visited the hospital to examine Charlie but in addition, he had not read Charlie’s contemporaneous medical records or viewed Charlie’s brain imaging or read all of the second opinions about Charlie’s condition – obtained from experts all of whom had taken the opportunity to examine him and consider his records – or even read the judge’s decision made on April 11.
‘Further, GOSH was concerned to hear the professor state, for the first time, while in the witness box, that he retains a financial interest in some of the NBT compounds he proposed prescribing for Charlie. Devastatingly, the information obtained since 13 July gives no cause for optimism.
‘Rather, it confirms that while NBT may well assist others in the future, it cannot and could not have assisted Charlie.’
Dr Hirano, a Harvard-educated neuroscientist, told the High Court that new drugs had a ‘small but significant’ chance of helping Charlie’s rare condition and it was ‘worth trying’.
Great Ormond Street has been praised by judges for its care of Charlie, but has faced condemnation by some pro-life campaigners.
It has emerged that hospital staff have received death threats and abuse and that police were called after ‘unacceptable behaviour’ was recorded in the hospital.
The case took on the air of a circus when Donald Trump and Pope Francis made high-profile interventions at the start of July. They were swiftly followed by a radical American pastor loudly calling on God to change the judge’s mind. The pastor – Patrick Mahoney – arrived on July 9 bringing his ‘power of prayer’. He has been arrested – and jailed – in the US for repeated direct action against judges and medics he perceives as being pro-abortion.
Next up was American attorney Catherine Glenn Foster, part of Rev Mahoney’s pro-life lobby. She planted a tender kiss on Charlie’s head and then tweeted it to her followers and made it her Facebook profile photo.
She has apparently been offering legal tips to the family. Alasdair Seton-Marsden, a UKIP candidate in the general election, was also involved in the case.
He initially made statesman-like pronouncements on behalf of the family outside court. But then he started appearing on American television accusing the NHS of holding Charlie ‘as a captive’. He then fell out with Charlie’s parents over the media strategy.
Last Saturday, hospital chief Mary MacLeod called in police and issued a statement revealing ‘a shocking and disgraceful tide of hostility and disturbance’. In response, Miss Yates and Mr Gard said they were ‘extremely upset by the backlash we have received after Great Ormond Street Hospital put out their statement’. They added: ‘We too have suffered from the most hurtful comments from the public and GOSH is aware of this.’
Dr Hirano specialises in mitochondrial depletion syndrome.