Baby Char­lie’s par­ents storm out after court row

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

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.

PIC­TURE: JONATHAN BRADY / PA WIRE

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.

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