Charlie Gard to be moved to hospice for final hours, judge rules
Charlie Gard will spend his final hours in a hospice before the ventilator that keeps him alive is turned off, a judge has ruled, after a harrowing legal battle that prompted a debate over who has the moral right to decide the fate of a sick child.
Charlie’s distraught parents had been trying to find a medical team that could look after him in a hospice for several days so that they could bid farewell to him just days before his first birthday, which is due on August 4.
A judge had given the parents until noon on Thursday to reach an agreement with Great Ormond Street Hospital about spending more time in a hospice, but no compromise was reached so a judge ruled that Charlie’s artificial ventilation should be turned off.
“It is not in Charlie’s best interests for artificial ventilation to continue to be provided to him, and it is therefore lawful and in his best interests for it to be withdrawn,” High Court judge Nicholas Francis said in an order.
Chris Gard and Connie Yates with their son Charlie Gard.
Francis ruled that Charlie be transferred to a hospice and that his ventilation be withdrawn, according to a copy of the order seen by Reuters.
The case even drew comment from US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis and involved months of legal wrangling about whether Charlie should be taken to the United States for experimental treatment.
Charlie suffers from an extremely rare genetic condition causing progressive brain damage and muscle weakness. He cannot move his arms or legs, and he cannot see, hear or swallow.
After reluctantly accepting that there was no hope for Charlie, his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, sought to take their son home to die.
But Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is being treated, said that would not be possible due to the invasive ventilation equipment needed to keep Charlie alive.
His parents then tried to find an intensive care doctor to oversee a plan that would allow Charlie to be ventilated in a hospice for several days.
A lawyer for Charlie’s court-appointed guardian had told the High Court that no hospice could provide care for intensively ventilated children for a long time, so the parents’ wish to spend several days with him could not be fulfilled.
“We deeply regret that profound and heartfelt differences between Charlie’s doctors and his parents have had to be played out in court over such a protracted period,” the hospital said.
Britain’s courts, backed by the European Court of Human Rights, refused permission for him to travel to the United States, saying it would prolong his suffering without any realistic prospect of helping him.