Connie Yates and Chris Gard, parents of 9-month-old Charlie Gard, have failed in their final attempt to keep their devastatingly ill son on life support. Charlie suffers from an extremely rare genetic disorder known as mitochondrial depletion syndrome. Less than 20 cases of the disorder have been identified worldwide, and symptoms included brain damage and progressively worsening muscle weakness.
Charlie Gard is currently receiving life-sustaining treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital in UK. The specialist physicians overseeing his care have argued that the brain damage Charlie has suffered as a result of his condition is irreparable, that his life consists of little more than pain and suffering, and that Charlie should be removed from life support and be allowed to “die with dignity.” Currently, Charlie is blind, deaf, and severely brain damaged due to his condition.
Charlie Gard’s parents vehemently disagree with the opinions of his doctors and have launched a desperate campaign, including fundraising and extensive legal measures, to keep Charlie alive. As BBC reports, Yates and Gard first took their case to the Family Division of the High Court in London on March 3. On April 11, Justice Francis of the High Court ruled in favor of the hospital, giving doctors permission to remove Charlie Gard from life support against his parents’ wishes.
Charlie’s parents quickly appealed that ruling, but on May 25 their appeal was dismissed by three Court of Appeal judges. On June 8, Charlie’s case was lost in the Supreme Court. On June 20, Connie Yates and Chris Gard launched a last-ditch effort to save their son’s life via the European Court of Human Rights. On June 27, the court refused to intervene in the Charlie Gard case, effectively giving the final okay to the doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital to remove Charlie from life support, ending his struggle.
According to the medical professionals at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Charlie Gard has no chance of survival. However, as part of their fight to keep him alive, the infant’s parents have raised roughly £1.3m on a crowdfunding site to bring the baby to the United States for experimental treatment. However, physicians have argued that even if Charlie’s experimental treatment is successful in curing his mitochondrial depletion syndrome, his brain damage is irreversible and his quality of life would not be improved.
According to the European Court of Human Rights, the experimental treatment being sought by his parents would do nothing more than “continue to cause Charlie significant harm.” The court added that, in his current state, Charlie Gard is most likely “being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress,” and that the experimental American treatment had “no prospects of success… would offer no benefit.”
In addition to summarily dismissing Charlie’s parents’ final legal appeal, the European court has ruled that “it was appropriate to lift the interim measure,” meaning that doctors can legally remove Charlie’s life support despite his parents’ opposition.
It is expected that doctors will remove the baby from life support within a few days, and that the hospital and Charlie’s devastated parents will meet up in the interim to make final arrangements.
As for the money raised by Charlie’s parents for their son’s treatment? His mother has already vowed that it will be donated to a charity specializing in mitochondrial depletion syndromes if she was not given the opportunity to use it for her son.
“We’d like to save other babies and children because these medications have been proven to work and we honestly have so much belief in them. If Charlie doesn’t get this chance, we will make sure that other innocent babies and children will be saved.”
According to the Great Ormond Street Hospital, they plan to support Charlie’s parents throughout the final difficult step of his short, tragic life. They say that no date has been set to “change Charlie’s care.”
“There will be no rush to change Charlie’s care and any future treatment plans will involve careful planning and discussion.”
Throughout the entire battle over life and death of Charlie Gard, medical and legal professionals have argued that Charlie should be allowed to “die with dignity,” and that prolonging his life via life support has only prolonged his suffering.
[Featured Image by Connie Yates/GoFundMe]