Baby Charlie Gard Life in Limbo
Baby Charlie Gard, the eight-month-old baby presently staying at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, is suffering from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage. A judge has ruled that doctors can withdraw life-support treatment. His parents, both in their 30’s, want to be allowed to take him to a hospital in the US for treatment. They are both devastated by the court’s decision.
Parents Want to Challenge Ruling in Court of Appeal
Following the decision barrister Pravin Fernando informed the judge that the couple want to challenge his decision in the Court of Appeal. Lawyers representing Great Ormond Street said treatment would continue until appeal decisions had been made. Charlie’s parents have criticized the judge for refusing to give their son one last “chance of treatment.” The couple has three weeks in which to lodge an appeal against the ruling. Only if they decide not to appeal – or if any appeal is subsequently dismissed can the hospital begin the process of stopping treatment to Baby Charlie.
The ruling, unless appealed, means that Charlie will not be allowed to travel to the US. This decision resulted in distressing scenes in the High Court today. His family burst into tears. Charlie’s father cried out, “No, no!” and buried his head in his hands. Relatives in the gallery moved forward to comfort him.
In his summary ruling Mr Justice Francis said that Charlie’s parents “acknowledged and accepted that the quality of life that Charlie has at present is not worth sustaining.” He said, “Subjecting him to nucleoside therapy is unknown territory, for it has never even been tested on mouse models, but it may (or may not) subject the patient to pain, possibly even to mutations.” He concluded, “It is with the heaviest of hearts, but with complete conviction […] that I find it is in Charlie’s best interests that I accede to these applications that GOSH may lawfully withdraw all treatment save for palliative care to permit Charlie to die with dignity.”
Baby Charlie was born with mitochondrial disorder. This is a genetic condition and it saps the organs of energy. It is so rare it only affects a handful of people in the world. The baby is in its last stages. He has been left deaf and blind. His doctors say he can still feel pain. He can only breathe through a ventilator. His team of doctors have all agreed that Charlie’s damaged brain function, “cannot be improved.”