25 Julio 2017 12:48
The baby's parents will now have to say goodbye to their sonA tumultuous and heart-wrenching legal battle has come to an end for the parents of critically-ill Charlie Gard, just under one years of age, after they announced that they would no longer be seeking his medical treatment in the US. Controversial back-and-forth between London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and couple Chris Gard and Connie Yates has played out in the public eye, with both parties disagreeing about young Charlie’s future. GOSH stated at the beginning of the year that Charlie’s degenerative disease, encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, was untreatable and his life support should be switched off. His parents disagreed, and entered a five-month campaign to fight the hospital’s decision and to be granted allowance to take their son to America for experimental treatment. The case has made its way to the European Court of Human Rights and the UK’s highest courts, but on Monday, the High Court heard that they were withdrawing their application because time had run out for US medical intervention to be successful. Charlie’s life-support will be switched off. Their lawyer, Grant Armstrong, said: ‘Understandably, the parents wish to spend the maximum amount of time they have left with Charlie from now on.’
UPDATE: Ms. Yates and Mr. Gard are heading back to court later this afternoon (Tuesday) and are expected to tell the High Court that they do not want Charlie's life support to be withdrawn in hospital. They will reportedly seek permission to take their son home to die, the BBC reported.Amid death threats, protests, international outcry, and even commentary from Donald Trump and the Pope, the case has divided parents, politicians and doctors alike. Here, we break down all you need to know about this dicey clash between family autonomy and medicine.
[caption id="attachment_5467" align="aligncenter" width="446"] London, UK (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)[/caption]
How did the legal battle start?Following baby Charlie’s birth on 4 August 2016, he was diagnosed with encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, a condition so rare that he is only the sixteenth known person in the world to ever have it. The disease causes progressive muscle weakness and irreversible brain damage. Doctors working at GOSH, after examining Charlie, told his parents that there was nothing they could do, and that his life support should be switched off. Refusing to accept GOSH’s’ decision, Ms. Yates and Mr. Gard started researching specialists around the world, and found Professor Michio Hirano, an American-based pioneer in his field. Professor Hirano claimed that he could help with an experimental new treatment, but the NHS weren’t convinced and refused to pay for Ms. Yates and Mr. Gard to take Charlie to the US as it would be ‘futile’. Relations between GOSH and the couple broke down and became so frayed that the disagreement ended up in High Court, with the first hearing in April.
What were the court rulings?The High Courth judge, Mr. Justice Francis, ruled on the side of GOSH and agreed that Charlie’s life-support should be switched off as his condition could only worsen. However, the parents fought the ruling. They went through almost all of the legal system, losing in the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. Support for Mr. Gard and Ms. Yates came in from Trump and Pope Francis, who agreed that it was for the parents to decide the fate of their child, with the US president even offering his help with the campaign.
Nevertheless, at the end of June, the heartbroken parents were told to spend time with Charlie before GOSH switches off his life-support.
If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 3 de julio de 2017
Why did GOSH bring the case back to the High Court this week?In the final hours of the case, GOSH decided to take the case back to court in July, after more details about Professor Hirano’s involvement with the ordeal came to light. The London-based hospital said Professor Hirano did not visit Charlie until last week, despite being offered the chance to visit in January, the BBC reported. It also claimed that the professor had not read the judge’s rulings following the first High Court hearing in April, and that it was concerned to hear Professor Hirano admit that he had financial interest in some of the treatment he proposed to treat the young boy. But, all efforts have proven to end in the same way. The Family Division of the High Court heard on Monday that Professor Hirano was no longer willing to offer the treatment after he saw the results of Charlie’s most recent MRI scan last week. Standing outside the court, a tearful Mr. Gard told crowds: ‘We are now going to spend our last precious moments with our son Charlie, who unfortunately won't make his first birthday in just under two weeks' time. ‘Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn't save you.’