The case of terminally ill 11-month-old Charlie Gard has captivated the world in recent weeks as his parents have fought a seemingly losing battle to keep their baby on life support. Charlie suffers from an extremely rare form of mitochondrial depletion syndrome (only 16 cases are known to exist in the world). According to his doctors, Charlie Gard is profoundly brain damaged, blind, deaf and incapable of breathing or eating on his own. They are fighting to remove the infant from life support in an attempt to allow him to “die with dignity.”
The highest courts in the UK and Europe have sided with the medical professionals at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, repeatedly ruling that continuing treatment offers no benefit to little Charlie Gard. On June 27, the European Court of Human Rights agreed that keeping Charlie alive by artificial means is most likely only ensuring that he is “being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress.”
Connie Yates and Chris Gard, Charlie’s parents, have raised roughly $1.8 million by way of crowdfunding to bring Charlie to the United States for experimental treatment for his disease. Last week, an American doctor flew to London to evaluate Charlie Gard in the hopes of convincing the courts (if not his doctors) that the 11-month-old could potentially benefit from such treatment. Court is schedule to resume early next week, but despite American lawmakers going so far as to grant the infant and his parents temporary U.S. citizenship, it appears unlikely that the court will allow Charlie to be transported for treatment that has been ruled to have “no prospects of success” and which “would offer no benefit.”
The treatment offered in the U.S. is so experimental that it has never even been tested on mice.
In the midst of the legal battle over Charlie Gard and whether he would be best served by end-of-life hospice or experimental treatment, the infant has accumulated supporters around the world. Some have even gathered outside of the Great Ormond Street Hospital to protest the institution’s desire to remove Charlie from life support, effectively ending his life.
Other supporters of Charlie Gard and his parents’ fight for his life have taken a different tactic when it comes to taking on the baby’s medical care providers. As the Guardian reported, the Great Ormond Street Hospital has now received thousands of abusive messages from those opposed to removing Charlie Gard from life support. Some of the messages were allegedly so vile that they amounted to little more than death threats against doctors, nurses and staff.
Please, don't blame the staff.
Great Ormond Street staff receive abusive messages including death threatshttps://t.co/gVMNjdWBjz
— Helen (@Hells4Heroes) July 22, 2017
What’s worse, parents of other sick children being treated at the hospital where Charlie Gard has lived most of his short life also claim that they have been “harassed and discomfited” by those opposed to the Great Ormond Street Hospital’s stance in terminal baby’s case.
Chairwoman Mary MacLeod of the Great Ormond Street Hospital confirmed that hospital staff members have been subjected to an ongoing onslaught of abuse related to the Charlie Gard case.
“In recent weeks the GOSH community has been subjected to a shocking and disgraceful tide of hostility and disturbance. Staff have received abuse both in the street and online. Thousands of abusive messages have been sent to doctors and nurses whose life’s work is to care for sick children. Many of these messages are menacing, including death threats. Families have been harassed and discomforted while visiting their children and we have received complaints of unacceptable behaviour even within the hospital itself.”
Why on earth would death threats be sent to sent to nurses at Great Ormond Street Hospital what word do we live in ?
— Masato Jones???????????????? (@masatostudio) July 22, 2017
the absolute incomprehensible irony of prolifers issuing vile death threats to staff at Great Ormond street children's hospital #CharlieGard
— Annie Bishop (@killhopelaw) July 22, 2017
If you've never had to be around paediatric nurses for extended periods, then you're lucky. But they are abnormally heroic, amazing people.
— Sali Hughes (@salihughes) July 22, 2017
Very sad to hear staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital are receiving death threats, some people have no shame. Hope staff are supported.
— Gordon Edwards (@GordonEdwards77) July 22, 2017
They could save a lot more if they weren't wasting so much on care and legal case over a hopeless case.
— Angel (@Amanita_virosa1) July 22, 2017
According to Ms. MacLeod, authorities with the Metropolitan Police have been notified of threats and abusive behavior, and the hospital has vowed to hold those behind the “deplorable” threats accountable. Scotland Yard has also reportedly become involved in the investigation.
Charlie & His Uncle Andy. Charlie could have been your son, grandson, nephew, godchild, this family have been sent Charlie for a reason, because they were the ones who would fight for him and in return he would fight against all odds till his family win that fight. If he's still fighting we're still fighting! #savecharliegard
MacLeod added that the medical professionals at the Great Ormond Street Hospital are aware of the public interest in the “heart-breaking” Charlie Gard case, but that the institution will not tolerate having other patients’ peace and privacy disturbed or abuse of its doctors and nurses.
“Charlie Gard’s case is a heart-breaking one. We fully understand that there is intense public interest, and that emotions run high. We recognise the tireless advocacy of Charlie’s loving parents and the natural sympathy people feel with his situation. However, whatever the strong emotions raised by this case, there can be no excuse for patients and families to have their privacy and peace disturbed as they deal with their own often very stressful situations or for dedicated doctors and nurses to suffer this kind of abuse.”
Look at these 3! How can anyone's heart not break for them?! Time for us to REALLY get involved and do something about it! Even if you only have a half hour to spare tonight join the fight! DOWNING STREET 6PM! TONIGHT! #charliesfight #charliesarmy #downingstreet #charliesarmy #charliesfight #london #parentalrights
Mr. Justice Francis of the family division of the High Court in London is scheduled to review all of the latest evidence in the Charlie Gard case on Monday. It is possible that a decision regarding the withdrawal of Charlie’s care will be made at that time.
[Featured Image by Connie Yates/GoFundMe]