US doctor meets with specialists treating British baby with rare genetic condition

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US doctor meets with specialists treating baby with rare genetic condition: ABC's James Longman reports from London during Action News at noon on July 19, 2017. (WPVI)

The family of a British baby on life support is seeking more treatment for his rare genetic condition.

11-month-old Charlie Gard's mom and dad are awaiting a report from an American neurosurgeon. The doctor's opinion could determine whether the child lives or dies.

Dr. Michio Hirano of Columbia University, who specializes in treating rare genetic conditions, arrived at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to help assess baby Charlie and weigh in on the next, or final, chapter of the baby's life.

Baby Charlie suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease that has left him brain damaged. He can't see or hear and is unable to breathe unaided. He's been on life support for several months.

British doctors want to turn off his life support, but baby Charlie's parents refuse.

His situation has drawn international attention in part because of the conflict between his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, and doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The baby's parents want him to receive an experimental treatment in the United States to extend his life, while doctors at the hospital believe that such an intervention will not ultimately help him and only prolong his pain and suffering.

Dr. Hirano's visit was organized during a court hearing last week after he testified that the treatment was worth a try.

The London hospital gave Hirano an honorary contract, which gives him the same status as its own physicians. Under the arrangement, Hirano and another doctor from the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome, were allowed to examine Charlie as well as his medical records to see if he could benefit from this treatment and travel to a hospital in the United States for care.

Dr. Hirano is now going over his findings and is expected to deliver a report with his opinion to the judge on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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