Legal battle over
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.
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.
Charlie Gard suffers from a rare form of mitochondrial disease.