A MOTHER from Tunbridge Wells has donated her life savings to a campaign to save a desperately ill baby.
The High Court in London decreed yesterday (April 11) that eight-month-old Charlie Gard should have his life support withdrawn – against the wishes of his parents.
The baby has a disorder called mitochondrial depletion syndrome which affects the genetic building blocks that provide cells with energy.
Helen Barnes gave £40,000 to a fund which was trying to raise £1.3million for eight-month-old Charlie Gard’s medical treatment in the United States.
By the time the High Court reached its verdict, the campaign had raised £1,264,560 on the Go Fund Me website within two months, with 82,541 donations made.
After hearing of their plight on BBC 2’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, the 45-year-old mother of two initially made a donation of £20,000, which she later doubled.
“I was moved to tears when I saw Connie and Chris being interviewed”
Mrs Barnes, 45, admitted her generosity was a ‘real sacrifice’ but added that she and her husband regularly gave substantial amounts to charity.
“I was moved to tears when I saw Connie and Chris being interviewed,” Mrs Barnes told the Daily Mail. “I couldn’t believe the terrible situation they’ve found themselves in.”
Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, have been told by doctors at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London that there is no definitive cure.
The doctors asked the High Court to agree to turn off his life support system. Justice Nicholas Francis began hearing evidence in the Family Division on April 3.
But the parents, from Bedfont in London, are trying to raise the sum in order to take Charlie to the US, where a doctor is prepared to try an experimental treatment.
Mrs Barnes added: “It seems wrong that their child isn’t being given the chance of life when there is something that could help him. I am a spontaneous person and immediately it felt right to give them this money. As a mother, you will do anything you can for your child and I just wanted to help them.
“So often we, as parents, are fobbed off by professionals saying we don’t know what we’re talking about. But a mother knows her child best and should be respected.”
She has since been in contact with Miss Yates, who said: “Helen has since been a tremendous support and we are really grateful to her.”
It is understood that Charlie is only the 16th person worldwide to contract the rare form of mitochondrial disease.
Debra Powell QC said ‘world-renowned’ experts agreed with the decision to withdraw life support because his quality of life was so poor.
An expert was appointed to represent Charlie’s interests and he advised that the baby should not travel to the US. The guardian told Barrister Victoria Butler-Cole that the American process had ‘no real prospect of improving Charlie’s condition or quality of life’.
Doctors at Great Ormond Street say he could be given the treatment here in the UK but they believe he is too ill to benefit. They advise moving to a palliative care regime.