Charlie Gard: Boris Johnson says baby cannot be moved to Vatican

Charlie Gard Image copyright PA
Image caption Charlie Gard has been in intensive care since October

It is impossible for terminally ill Charlie Gard to be transferred to the Vatican's children's hospital for treatment, Boris Johnson has said.

The foreign secretary told Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano legal reasons prevented him from being moved.

The president of the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome had asked British doctors if 10-month-old Charlie could be transferred to his care.

It comes after the Pope tweeted his support for Charlie on Monday.

Charlie has been receiving specialist treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital since October.

Mr Johnson has told his Italian counterpart it is "right that decisions continued to be led by expert medical opinion, supported by the courts", in line with Charlie's "best interests."

Charlie has mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic condition which causes progressive muscle weakness. Doctors say he cannot see, hear, move, cry or swallow.

During questions to the prime minister, on Wednesday, Theresa May said she was "confident" Great Ormond Street Hospital "have, and always will, consider any offers or new information that has come forward with consideration of the well-being of a desperately ill child".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Connie Yates and Chris Gard raised more than £1.3m for experimental treatment for Charlie

Charlie's parents raised £1.3m on a crowdfunding site to pay for experimental treatment in the US.

But they lost a legal battle with the hospital last month after judges at the European Court of Human Rights concluding further treatment would "continue to cause Charlie significant harm".

The Vatican's paediatric hospital stepped in after Pope Francis called for Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, to be allowed to "accompany and treat their child until the end".

'Unhelpful and cruel'

The hospital's president Mariella Enoc said: "I was contacted by the mother, who is a very determined and decisive person and doesn't want to be stopped by anything."

Renowned scientist and genetics expert Robert Winston told ITV's Good Morning Britain that courts and doctors should not be interfering with the parents' wishes, saying the loss of a child was "about the worst injury that any person can have".

However, he said "interferences from the Vatican and from Donald Trump" were "extremely unhelpful and very cruel".

Lord Winston added: "This child has been dealt with at a hospital which has huge expertise in mitochondrial disease and is being offered a break in a hospital that has never published anything on this disease, as far as I'm aware."

Image copyright Franco Origlia
Image caption Lord Winston said "interferences from the Vatican" were "unhelpful"

The Vatican said the Pope was following the case "with affection and sadness".

A statement added: "For [Charlie's parents] he prays, hoping that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored."

US President Donald Trump also tweeted about Charlie on Monday, writing: "If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the UK and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so."

Charlie's parents, from Bedfont, west London, have spent the last days of their son's life with him, after being given more time before his life-support is turned off.

On Thursday they said the hospital had denied them their final wish to take their son home to die.

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