American doctor was 'wicked' to give Charlie Gard's parents false hope

Charlie Gard has a rare genetic disease

An American doctor who offered to treat terminally ill Charlie Gard has been branded “wicked” for giving the boy’s parents “false hope“.

Lord Robert Winston, professor of Science and Society at Imperial College London, said that staff at Great Ormond Street hospital have as much knowledge as the infant’s condition as other doctors across the world.

He said that Dr Michio Hirano, a New York neurology professor, who travelled from the US to London to examine Charlie earlier in the month, had not demonstrated how he could treat the child.

“I have looked up Dr Hirano and what he has written — the fact of the matter is that they have not published details which show that they clearly could have changed this boy’s life and the prognosis of the disease,” he told Sky News.

Dr Hirano has come under fire

“I have to say it was rather wicked to give the parents the idea that somehow had this baby been treated earlier it would have made a difference. That is not our experience with this disease.”

Yesterday, the parents of Charlie, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, ended their five-month battle over the right to allow their child to have experimental treatment in the US.

Ahead of a hearing at the High Court, the couple said that “time has run out” for their son, who has a rare genetic condition.

In a statement, Katie Gollop QC, acting for Great Ormond Street, criticised the American doctor.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates leaving the High Court yesterday (Rex)

She said the hospital hoped that those, such as Professor Hirano, who “have provided the opinions that have so sustained Charlie’s parents, their hopes and thus this protracted litigation with its many consequences, will also find much upon which to reflect”.

She also criticised him for seemingly having a financial interest in some of the medicine he might have prescribed for Charlie.

MORE: Charlie Gard given US citizenship by Congress so he can fly to US for treatment
MORE: Charlie Gard’s parents back in court after ‘backlash’ over hospital death threats

She added: “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 11 April.

“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.”

However, Art Estopinan, defending Dr Hirano, said his son has been treated with experimental drugs in the US.

Arturito became the first child with mitochondrial depletion syndrome to receive the treatment in the US

His father said: “I believe that Dr Hirano is an angel. He’s a saint. He saved my son and he’s saved about 16 or 18 other children around the world with these devastating diseases.”

He accused GOSH doctors of allowing Charlie Gard to “waste away for eight months”.

In September 2016, Charlie was diagnosed with infantile onset encephalomyopathy mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS).

In March,  Great Ormond Street asked a judge to rule that life-support treatment should stop, while European judges refused to intervene in June.

His plight has drawn international sympathy and seen interventions from the  Pope and  Donald Trump.

In a statement, Great Ormond Street paid tribute to the “extraordinary courage and strength of Connie Yates and Chris Gard and their devotion to their son.”

“This has been an incredibly complex case, going to the heart of medical ethics and when, and if, experimental treatment is acceptable for children suffering from rare diseases. We would like to acknowledge all those who have contributed their expertise and advice,” it said.

“Chris and Connie have communicated their desire to spend time with Charlie. We appeal for them to be given the space and privacy they need at this heart-breaking time.”

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