UK couple ends battle to take baby abroad for treatment
Parents of British baby Charlie Gard have abandoned their legal battle against a hospital’s decision to turn off their son’s life support.
Baby Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, had garnered support from many people in Britain, and from further afield such as US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis.
Chris Gard made a statement outside London’s High Court.
“This is one of the hardest thing that we will ever have to say. We are about to do the hardest thing that we will ever have to do, which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go. Put simply, this is about a sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy who was born with a rare disease, who had a genuine chance at life and a family who loved him so very dearly and that’s why we fought so hard for him.”
Charlie was born in August last year with a rare genetic condition causing progressive muscle weakness and brain damage.
The couple’s battle began when the Great Ormond Street Hospital recommended they stop treatment and allow their son to die with dignity.
Baby Charlie’s parents were fighting to take their son to the United States for further treatment.
The hospital said the proposed experimental treatment, called NBT, had never been tried on any human or animal with Charlie’s condition and was unlikely to succeed.
Britain’s courts, backed by the European Court of Human Rights, backed the hospital, saying it would prolong his suffering without any realistic prospect of helping the child.
Mr Gard says tests now show it’s time to let their son go.
“We are truly devastated to say that following the most recent MRI scan of Charlie’s muscles, as requested in a recent MDT meeting by Dr Hirano, as Charlie’s devoted and loving parents, we’ve decided it’s no longer in Charlie’s best interests to pursue treatment and we will let our son go and be with the angels.”
At the beginning of their battle, the couple presented the hospital with over 350,000 signatures and $2.2 million (AU) in funds raised for their son’s case.
The family was also supported by Pope Francis, who issued a statement saying he respected their decision to care for their child.
President Donald Trump also offered the couple support, tweeting in early July, “If we can help little Charlie Gard, as per our friends in the UK and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.”
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke says Pope Francis has responded to the couple’s announcement they were ending their legal battle.
“It’s no surprise that the message of the Pope is clearly a message of being close to those who are suffering and at this time essentially that’s what he wants, he wants to be close to the parents of Charlie Gard, he’s praying for Charlie and especially at this moment. He had already been praying for them but especially at this moment after the decision made today.”
The hospital says it will now discuss appropriate palliative care with the family.
Charlie’s parents expect their 11 month old son will not make it to his first birthday, just two weeks away.
“Our son is an absolute warrior and 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… 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 saved you. Sweet dreams baby, sleep tight our beautiful little boy. We love you.”