Baby Charlie’s parents storm out after court row
LONDON: Charlie Gard’s parents have stormed out of a High Court hearing over new evidence on whether their terminally ill son should be allowed to receive experimental treatment.
Chris Gard and Connie Yates’ angry departure from the courtroom followed outbursts over comments they had made three months ago brought up by Justice Nicholas Francis.
The judge said in a previous hearing the parents had told the court they were not “fighting for what he had now” and were seeking an improvement in quality of life for Charlie, who has a rare genetic disease. “I didn’t say he’s suffering,” shouted Yates angrily before leaving the room with Gard, leaving Charlie’s toy monkey on the court bench.
This came during a tense court hearing before which the couple were given 48 hours to provide new evidence for why baby Charlie should receive nucleoside therapy.
Lawyer Grant Armstrong, representing the parents, presented the judge with a letter on the potential benefits of the unproven treatment written by Dr Michio Hirano at the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome.
In the letter, Hirano said there was a 56% chance the treatment, given as an oral solution, could pass the blood-brain barrier in Charlie and lead to potential improvement in his condition. “These nucleosides exist in the human body,” said Armstrong, adding that unlike many cancer treatments the therapy is non-toxic and has not been shown to cause worse side-effects than diarrhoea. “They are part of DNA.”
Consulting more medical evidence from Italian researchers in a letter to Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is being cared for, Justice Francis raised concerns that tests on mice of the new therapy could not be extrapolated to Charlie’s condition. “It’s an absolutely fundamental issue that we’ve all got to grapple with,” he said.
Armstrong said Hirano’s view was that “this is the appropriate treatment” for Charlie, born on August 4, last year. It was rare that a court case had to tackle “the cutting edge of science”.
The judge asked: “Who has been treating Charlie for the past 12 months?” Doctors at Great Ormond Street have argued it is kinder to turn off life support for the baby, who cannot move or breathe unaided.
Charlie Gard’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. They want a judge to rule that 11-month-old Charlie, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, should be allowed to undergo a therapy trial in the US.