The reports of Charlie Gard’s death are greatly exaggerated. As word of his imminent demise spread around the globe, a multitude of voices have been lifted in prayer for little Charlie. Untold numbers of the faithful have petitioned long-standing patrons of impossible causes like St. Jude and St. Rita, as well as recently departed souls like the Blessed Chiara Badano. Perhaps it is thanks to their intercessions that this child still lives. Charlie’s parents were back in court yesterday to present new testimony from half a dozen American, Italian, and Spanish doctors who have stated that his case is not hopeless.
Even as the staff of the hospital responsible for his care and the European courts fight to kill him, this little baby is tenaciously defying the odds. In the days since the Orwellian European Court of Human Rights handed down an effective death sentence, no less than Pope Francis and President Trump and many others have raised their voices to give this poor child every chance at survival. Congress is even considering a bill to make Charlie a legal permanent resident, so he can freely travel to the United States to seek treatment for his condition. Like a sort of modern-day Moses in the bulrushes, Charlie Gard has found some powerful protectors here across the water.
Meanwhile, the case of the so-called “boy without a brain” reminds us of the incredible resilience of young children to severe mental and physical disabilities at birth. As anyone with young children knows, babies possess enormous capacity for regeneration and healing. A small scrape which would take weeks to heal for an adult is often completely gone for children within days. Children are not so fragile as we might suppose. Other children with conditions similar to Charlie’s were given the same experimental treatment his parents are seeking, and showed genuine progress.
The fact that Charlie is still fighting for his life poses a threat to socialized medicine, because the supposed experts had already given up hope, but his parents have persisted. If the experts are shown to be mistaken, it will call into question the larger trend towards euthanizing the seriously and chronically ill. If Charlie miraculously survives, it will be a stunning rebuke to the conceit that well-educated elites know better than the rest of us. Like Michael Banks in Mary Poppins, his feeble demand for his own two cents could trigger a run on the credibility of those in power, and that is why the government and the hospital have fought so cruelly and bitterly against his parents’ wishes.
Perhaps the experimental treatment will not help Charlie. Perhaps the legal delays have already sapped too much valuable time which could have made a difference in his prognosis. Perhaps God is calling him home and our human efforts to forestall the inevitable are in vain. But then again, perhaps Charlie might be the boy who lived. We won’t know though unless we fight as hard for him as he is fighting just to stay alive.