Le­gal bat­tle over

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

Af­ter ex­per­i­men­tal care fight, par­ents agree to let ill son die

LON­DON — The par­ents of Char­lie Gard, whose bat­tle to get their crit­i­cally ill baby ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment stirred in­ter­na­tional sym­pa­thy and con­tro­versy, dropped their le­gal ef­fort on Mon­day, say­ing tear­fully that it was time to let their son die.

At an emo­tional court hear­ing, a lawyer for the baby’s par­ents, Chris Gard and Con­nie Yates, said the cou­ple was with­draw­ing a bid to have Char­lie sent to the United States, where a doc­tor had of­fered to try to treat his rare ge­netic con­di­tion. The de­ci­sion came af­ter new med­i­cal tests showed the 11-month-old, who has brain dam­age and can­not breathe un­aided, had ir­re­versible mus­cu­lar dam­age.

Both par­ents wept in the packed court­room at the High Court in Lon­don as lawyer Grant Arm­strong made the an­nounce­ment, his voice break­ing. “This case is now about time,” Arm­strong said. “Sadly, time has run out.”

Out­side court, Chris Gard said that Char­lie “won’t make his first birth­day in just un­der two weeks’ time”.

“We are about to do the hard­est thing that we will ever have to do, which is to let our beau­ti­ful lit­tle Char­lie go,” he said.

Gard and Yates, who are in their 30s, have fought fe­ro­ciously for their son, who was born in Au­gust with mi­to­chon­drial de­ple­tion syn­drome, a rare ge­netic dis­ease.

The baby has been treated at Great Or­mond Street Hos­pi­tal in Lon­don, one of the world’s lead­ing chil­dren’s hospi­tals. Doc­tors there said Char­lie is in pain and fur­ther treat­ment would only in­crease his suf­fer­ing. They have sought permission from the courts to switch off his life sup­port and al­low him to die peace­fully. His par­ents have re­sisted, ar­gu­ing that an ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment could ex­tend and im­prove Char­lie’s life.

The case gained in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion af­ter Char­lie’s par­ents re­ceived sup­port from Pope Fran­cis, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and some mem­bers of the US Congress.

As the le­gal bat­tle dragged on, US ac­tivists had flown to Lon­don to sup­port Char­lie’s par­ents, and the case be­came a flash­point for op­pos­ing views on health­care fund­ing, med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion, the role of the state and the rights of the child.

Pas­sions have of­ten run high, with ac­tivists de­mand­ing “Jus- tice for Char­lie” ral­ly­ing out­side the High Court and Great Or­mond Street Hos­pi­tal. Over the week­end, the hos­pi­tal said it had con­tacted po­lice af­ter staff re­ceived abuse and threats.

Char­lie’s par­ents con­demned the abuse, and on Mon­day thanked the hos­pi­tal for the care it had given their child.

PETER NI­CHOLLS / REUTERS

Char­lie Gard’s par­ents Coonie Yates and Chris Gard ar­rive at the High Court in Lon­don on Mon­day ahead of a hear­ing on their baby’s fu­ture.

FAM­ILY OF CHAR­LIE GARD VIA AP

Char­lie Gard suf­fers from a rare form of mi­to­chon­drial dis­ease.

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