Charlie Gard: The Vatican Children Hospital in contact with British family

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin, Baby Jesus Hospital President Mariella Enoc, Minister of Health Beatrice Lorenzin

Charlie Gard: The Vatican Children Hospital in contact with British family

By Francesco Peloso/ Vatican City

"Our approach has taken cue from the words of the Pope, who hopes the parents will be allowed to accompany and treat their child until the end." With this statement Mariella Enoc, president of Vatican’s Baby Jesus hospital, explained how the Holy See's health structure has stepped in recent days case of Charlie Gard, the infant who suffers from mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, a rare and fatal illness. Decisive was to establish a direct relationship with Charlie's mother who called on the phone Mrs. Enoc as she was opening at the same time a communication channel with the English hospital. Last Monday has been pretty convulsive for the president of the Baby Jesus Hospital who had also to deal with a case that has now become of international relevance, while not particularly loving, as she has admitted with a whisper of a voice, the media breakthrough.

Mariella Enoc explained how things went during the presentation of the hospital’s health report during a conference at Casina Pius IV in the heart of the Vatican City, home of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. On that same day, Monday July 3, Associated Press a major international agency published an inquiry that questioned the quality of the hospital, referring to episodes that would have happened not so long ago. To these allegations answered back also the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who was also present at the Hospital’s conference. With him, there were the Italian Minister of Health, Beatrice Lorenzin, Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, President of the Pontifical Academy for Science, and various health and science managers of the Baby Jesus Hospital. Bruno Dallapiccola, the hospital's scientific director, who has been somewhat skeptical in recent days about the possibility of further treatment for little Charlie, especially for the level of deterioration to which the disease has come.

Enoc tackled the subject of the newborn baby as soon as she arrived at the conference, and felt the need to return on the issue even at the end of the meeting. The president reiterated that Charlie's mother proved to be a very "decisive and determined" woman, who positively assessed the offered possibility for her family to accompany the child's illness in his final moments, but also expressed a strong desire for further experimental treatment. In the face of this question, Encoc said, "I have asked doctors and scientists to test this possibility," and then the result of further study on this subject will be communicated directly to Charlie's parents. Mariella Enoc then spoke of a recent case to explain the importance the hospital gives to the relationship with the small patients and their families. "A week ago," she said, "I was there when a severely ill girl died in her mother's arms. At that moment, I said 'the hospital has failed,' “No!” said the young girl’s mother “because Mary (name of fantasy) was cared for with love and dignity.”

In the meantime, and on another topic, communication with the Great Hormond street hospital continued; The Baby Jesus Hospital asked English health authorities if the child's transfer was viable, but the answer was negative, the board of the hospital denied the possibility of a transfer having various courts already ruled out this possibility. However, the English pediatric hospital thanked the Baby Jesus hospital for having recognized the importance of medical work so far done with little Charlie; Cooperation between the two structures therefore prevailed, and the possible rise of tensions was avoided.

On the issue of the child undergoing relentless therapy, both Enoc and Cardinal Parolin were cautious. Both of them have left the floor to doctors, first explaining that the rarity of the disease and its complications entail some kind of 'gray area'. "In this case it is very difficult to say whether it is relentless therapy or not," Said the president, "in this gray area," he added, "I abstain from judgment and do the only thing I can do, that is to say that we can welcome the family and accompany them as the Pope has asked us."

Parolin, for his part, has explicitly avoided giving medical answers: "I am not a specialist, we are not going into this matter now. We are pro-life, and respect what the Pope says." In short, the Cardinal then stated that the Holy See can be activated "to try to overcome these problems" of institutional and administrative nature, "on the medical side, if we can do something we will do it".

Regarding the performance of the Baby Jesus Hospital, the Secretary of State said the annual health report "is extremely positive, I believe that we are going in the right direction and therefore we express full confidence in the current hospital management and we encourage to keep going".

The Cardinal was then asked to give his thoughts on AP recent report, "I wonder," said Parolin, "what is the purpose of this inquiry as it actually takes on episodes that have occurred in the past that has been tried in all ways to identify and deal with trying to solve them. No hospital is perfect, problems are always there but some things are clearly unfounded; About the problems that have been detected “there was an attempt, and there is currently an attempt and serious effort to resolve them”.

Further clarification on the Associated Press’ report came from the Baby Jesus Hospital, who pointed out that the most serious problem now suffered by the Vatican hospital is the lack of spaces; in this sense, the Holy See and the Hospital are studying possible solutions to an issue that is becoming structural as time goes by and the number of patients increases. The Cardinal also asked the newly-appointed board of directors to support the hospital's efforts in the field of health reorganization.

Parolin then wanted to share the appeal launched by President Enoc in support of Minister Beatrice Lorenzin in favor of the vaccination campaign for all children: "It is important to share this appeal, we have also seen cases where failing to vaccinate has brought irreparable damage to children.”

Finally, among the many significant data of the annual report, it is worth remembering that the hospital has performed 339 organ and tissue transplants, diagnosed and assisted 9,600 patients with "rare" syndromes, offered 93,120 free nights to 3,700 families and dealt with 102 humanitarian cases involving foreign patients who were taken in. Furthermore, "In 2016, 80,015 emergency services (including 412 emergency transports of newborns and 81 helicopter transfers) were recorded along with 1,696,279 outpatient services (+ 50 per cent in the last 5 years). 27,058 between surgical and intervention procedures performed, 26,947 ordinary admissions, 28 per cent of which for patients from outside the region and 13,5% for children of foreign nationality. "

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 23:25
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