Charlie Gard’s Parents End Heartbreaking Legal Battle

Danielle Dent-Breen's picture
Charlie Gard End Legal Battle

The parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard have issued a statement today, saying that they will end all legal proceedings in the battle for their son’s life. “We’re about to do the hardest thing that we’ll ever have to do,” Charlie Gard’s parents said before spending their last moments with their son.

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Statement from Charlie Gard’s parents:

In a dramatic turn of events today, Chris Gard and Connie Yates have decided to end their lengthy legal battle in which they were seeking to gain permission to leave Great Britain and travel with their son to receive treatment that they claimed could prolong his life. Their decision comes in response to new evidence that has shown that it is “too late” for Charlie to benefit from the treatment they were seeking for their son.

Last week, American Neurologist Dr. Michio Hirano, MD traveled from the United States to London to examine Charlie. Dr. Hirano is a world specialist in mitochondrial disease research and the developer of the nucleoside bypass therapy treatment that Charlie’s parents believed could benefit Charlie. Dr. Hirano was accompanied by a physician from the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Hospital, Dr. Enrico Bertini.

Charlie’s parents announced today that, based upon the assessment of these doctors, they have opted to no longer pursue the experimental nucleoside bypass therapy treatment, as Dr. Hirano noted that the latest scans indicated that Charlie has suffered irreversible muscular and brain damage.

In a prepared statement, Chris Gard claimed that scans taken earlier this year, in January and April showed that his son’s brain was still relatively normal, but indicated that the protracted legal battle was ultimately to blame for Charlie’s deterioration.

“A whole lot of time has been wasted. … Had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy.” He went on, “We all have to live with the ‘what ifs’ that will haunt us for the rest of our lives.”

Whose rights ultimately should prevail?

In the UK, children have rights separate from the rights of their parents, and it is not unheard of for the courts to intervene when the desires of the parents do not line up with what the hospital believes to be the best interest of the child, for example, when a parent’s religious beliefs would prohibit treatment such as a blood transfusion.

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But Charlie’s case gained international attention as even the Pope and US President Donald Trump called for compassion as the Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he had been receiving treatment, sought to remove life support.

Charlie’s parents had raised over £1.3M to pay for the experimental nucleoside bypass therapy treatment in the United States, but the hospital claimed that Charlie was in pain, and that the treatments would be futile. US-based Pro-life activists flew to London to support Charlie’s parents’ bid, and his case became the centerpoint for controversy surrounding medical intervention, health-care funding, and what some see as an ever-encroaching power granted to the state, vs the rights of the parents and the child. Ultimately, the case pitted the right of parents to decide what's best for their children against the authorities' right to make medical decisions for people who can't speak for themselves.

A sad day.

Today, just one day before the High Court judge was expected to render a decision in the case, Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates made this passionate statement to the High Court.

“Now we will never know what would have happened if he got treatment but it's not about us. It's never been about us. It's about what's best for Charlie now. At the point in time when it has become too late for Charlie we have made the agonizing decision to let him go.”

"Our son has an extremely rare disease for which there is no accepted cure, but that does not mean that this treatment would not have worked, and it certainly does not mean that this shouldn't have been tried."

Yates cried as she told the court she and Charlie's father had only wanted the best for their son.

“This is one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to say. We are about to do one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do; this is, to let our beautiful little Charlie go.” Chris Gard said, reading outside the High Court from a prepared statement. “Put simply, this is about a sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy born with a rare disease who had a real genuine chance at life, and a family who loved him so very dearly, and that’s why we fought so hard for him. We are truly devastated to say that following the most recent MRI scans of Charlie’s muscles, as requested in the recent NDT meeting by Dr. Hirano, as Charlie’s devoted and loving parents, we have decided that it is no longer in Charlie’s best interests to pursue treatment and we will let our son go and be with the angels.”

Mr. Gard tearfully continued, “There is one simple reason why treatment cannot now go ahead, and that is time. A whole lot of time has been wasted. We are now in July, and our poor boy has been left to just lie in hospital for months without any treatment whilst lengthy court battles have been fought. Tragically, having had Charlie’s medical notes reviewed by independent experts, we now know [that] had Charlie been given the treatment soon enough, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy.
"Our son is an absolute warrior," Gard said of his baby. "We could not be prouder of him, and we will miss him terribly. His body, heart and soul may soon be gone, but his spirit will live on for eternity and he will make a difference to people’s lives for years to come. We will make sure of that.

"We are now going to spend our last precious moments with our son Charlie, who unfortunately won’t make his first birthday in just two weeks’ time. We would as to have privacy respected during this difficult time. To Charlie, we say, ‘Mummy and Daddy love you so much. We always have and we always will, and we are so sorry that we couldn’t save you. Sweet dreams, baby. Sleep tight, our beautiful little boy. We love you.”

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