The UK hospital treating Charlie Gard, a baby with a rare genetic disorder who has become the center of a controversy regarding medical treatment for the terminally ill, is receiving threats against staff members. The Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) released a statement over the weekend regarding the threats.
“Staff have received abuse both in the street and online,” the statement continued. “Thousands of abusive messages have been sent to doctors and nurses whose life’s work is to care for sick children. Many of these messages are menacing, including death threats. Families have been harassed and discomforted while visiting their children, and we have received complaints of unacceptable behavior even within the hospital itself.
Little Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have expressed their gratefulness to GOSH and condemned the threats against the staff in a statement made through a family spokesperson:
“GOSH is undoubtedly a remarkable establishment and we are all proud of its world-renowned reputation,” she said in a statement. “It is one of our finest hospitals and equally does not deserve any abuse for doing what it feels is in the best interests of a patient. … [I]t is time everyone refrains from making threats and nasty remarks to either the family or the hospital.”
Charlie was born with a disorder called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. For most patients with this genetic mutation, the prognosis does not hold much promise, and Gard and Yates understand that their son will never have a normal life. But the parents have found themselves mired in a legal battle over whether Britain’s National Health Service has the right to order the hospital to cease treatment on the baby.
Gard and Yates want to take their son to the United States for an experimental treatment, but the courts have even intervened in that situation. Baby Charlie’s young life has already become eventful in what one medical ethicist referred to CNN as a “tough, tough case.”
Put all the debate about government health care aside for a moment, and let’s look a disturbing facet of this situation. A small minority of those who don’t believe that Baby Charlie should be allowed to live have turned their disgusting beliefs on the doctors and nurses at GOSH and have declared that even they aren’t worthy of life.
It’s not enough to believe that the parents of a baby with a disease shouldn’t get the chance to decide what treatments the child will undergo. It’s not enough that the courts in the UK are tied up trying to determine the fate of a helpless sick infant. The advocates of death have now sought to threaten those who take care of the sick and helpless.
The doctors, nurses, and staff at GOSH deserve to take part in their life-saving work without having to fear for their safety. Patients and families should not have to have an already difficult time disrupted by those who wish to create turmoil. And Chris Gard and Connie Yates deserve to have a say in their son’s life. We should pray for all of those involved.
I’ll let the statement from the hospital have the last word:
“Whatever the strong emotions raised by this case, there can be no excuse for patients and families to have their privacy and peace disturbed as they deal with their own often very stressful situations or for dedicated doctors and nurses to suffer this kind of abuse.”