US specialist to meet with UK physicians treating 11-month-old Charlie Gard

A U.S. physician is scheduled to meet with the clinicians treating 11-month-old Charlie Gard in London, according to USA Today.

Michio Hirano, MD, chief of the division of neuromuscular disorders and director of the H. Houston Merritt Clinical Research Center at New York City-based Columbia University Medical Center, will meet with physicians from London-based Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children July 18 or July 19. He is also scheduled to meet with Charlie's mother.

The U.K. High Court of Justice invited Dr. Hirano to examine the child ahead of a court hearing to determine if Charlie should be taken off of life support. GOSHC provided Dr. Hirano with an honorary contract allowing him to assess the infant and granted him full access to Charlie's medical records, the BBC reports.

Dr. Hirano claims an experimental nucleoside therapy treatment may be between 11 percent and 56 percent effective in reducing some of the symptoms associated with Charlie's disorder. He also claims there is a "small but significant chance" the treatment may improve his brain function, according to Reuters.

The High Court is expected to issue a decision on Charlie's case July 25, 10 days before the child's first birthday.

In a July 13 statement, the hospital reiterated its stance to take Charlie off life support, citing his incurable condition and declining quality of life.

"At the heart of Charlie's parlous and terrible condition is the question, how can it be in his best interests for his life-sustaining treatment to be withdrawn? … Despite all the advances in medical science made by GOSHC and the other hospitals around the world, there remain some conditions that we cannot cure and we cannot ameliorate … It has been and remains the unanimous view of all of those caring for Charlie at Great Ormond Street that withdrawal of ventilation and palliative care are all that the hospital can offer him consistent with his welfare."

Charlie was diagnosed with infantile onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, an autosomal recessive disorder that causes a drop in an individual's mitochondrial DNA in affected tissues.

To learn more about Charlie's case, click here.

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