UK court sets new hear­ing for ter­mi­nally ill baby

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

LON­DON — A Bri­tish court on Mon­day gave the par­ents of 11-month-old Char­lie Gard a chance to present fresh ev­i­dence that their ter­mi­nally ill son should re­ceive ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment.

The de­ci­sion came af­ter an emo­tion­ally charged hear­ing in the wrench­ing case, dur­ing which Gard’s mother wept in frus­tra­tion and his fa­ther yelled at a lawyer.

Judge Ni­cholas Fran­cis gave the cou­ple un­til Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon to present the ev­i­dence and set a new hear­ing for Thurs­day in a case that has drawn in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion.

Char­lie suf­fers from mi­to­chon­drial de­ple­tion syn­drome, a rare ge­netic dis­ease that has left him brain dam­aged and un­able to breathe un­aided. His par­ents want to bring him abroad for ex­per­i­men­tal ther­apy, which they say of­fers their son a chance of im­prove­ment.

But Bri­tish and Euro­pean courts have sided with the hospi- tal’s de­ci­sion that the 11-mon­thold’s life sup­port should end, say­ing ther­apy would not help and would cause more suf­fer­ing.

The re­open­ing of the case at Lon­don’s High Court may al­low Char­lie to re­ceive the ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment at his cur­rent hospi­tal or abroad.

The ap­pli­ca­tion came af­ter both Pope Fran­cis and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump fu­eled in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion to the case, with hos­pi­tals in Rome and the United States of­fer­ing to pro­vide Char­lie the ex­per­i­men­tal ther­apy.

The case pits the rights of par­ents to de­cide what’s best for their chil­dren against the author­i­ties with re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­sur­ing that peo­ple who can’t speak for them­selves re­ceive the most ap­pro­pri­ate care.

Un­der Bri­tish law, it is nor­mal for courts to in­ter­vene when par­ents and doc­tors dis­agree on the treat­ment of a child such as cases where a par­ent’s re­li­gious be­liefs pro­hibit blood trans­fu­sions. The rights of the child take pri­macy, rather than the rights of par­ents to make the call.

Char­lie’s par­ents, Chris Gard and Con­nie Yates, have re­ceived wide pub­lic sup­port, while right-to-life groups have in­ter­vened in their cause. Amer­i­cans United for Life chief ex­ec­u­tive Cather­ine Glenn Fos­ter was in Lon­don on Mon­day to sup­port the cou­ple.

A pe­ti­tion sup­port­ing Char­lie’s right to treat­ment has gar­nered around 350,000 sig­na­tures and more than $1.7 mil­lion have been raised on­line for his case.

PETER NI­CHOLLS / REUTERS

The par­ents of crit­i­cally ill baby Char­lie Gard, Con­nie Yates and Chris Gard, pose with a pe­ti­tion out­side a hospi­tal in Lon­don on Sun­day.

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