UK agrees to pay for infant's $194k heart operation in US on heels of Charlie Gard controversy

The National Health Service, the publicly funded national healthcare system for the United Kingdom, agreed to pay the entire cost of a seven-month-old British infant's more than £150,000, or $194,820, treatment in the U.S. after officials determined U.K. physicians lacked the expertise to perform the operation, The Telegraph reports.

Seven-month-old Oliver Cameron was diagnosed with cardiac fibroma, a condition which causes a benign congenital cardiac tumor on a pediatric patient's heart. Physicians at an undisclosed hospital in Boston reportedly agreed to operate on the child after his first birthday in January, the report states. Officials said the operation may occur earlier if Oliver's condition worsens.

Tim and Lydia Cameron previously raised £130,000, or roughly $169,000, toward their son's cause before the NHS' announcement. The couple has not indicated what they now plan to do with the funds.

The NHS' announcement comes weeks after a public legal battle surrounding 11-month-old Charlie Gard and the U.K. High Court's decision to prevent Charlie from receiving an experimental treatment in the U.S. Charlie died July 28, one week before his first birthday.

However, experts claim Oliver's case is different because the procedure "has been shown to work on similarly ill patients," The Telegraph reports.

An NHS spokesperson told the publication, "[Oliver's] application [to receive treatment in the U.S.] identified there is not currently a surgical service in the U.K. with experience of treating this exceptionally rare condition and we have therefore agreed to fund Oliver's treatment abroad. We have also determined that a clinical policy is required for service access and will explore whether a service in the U.K. is appropriate considering the small number of patients."

The spokesperson also said the organization is considering sending a British surgeon to accompany Oliver and his parents to learn how to conduct the procedure.

Oliver's physicians at Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire, U.K., reportedly decided to support his parents' bid to find treatment elsewhere because having U.K. surgeons perform the operation would be "extremely high risk," according to the report.

More articles on hospital-physician relationships:
Northwestern medical school professor arrested on homicide charges: 6 takeaways
USC began receiving complaints about former medical school dean's behavior 5 years ago: 7 things to know
Anonymous London physician pens op-ed about 'agonizing job' to treat Charlie Gard

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