UK judge to decide if Charlie dies at home
A British judge is set to rule on where terminally ill baby Charlie Gard will spend his last moments before his life support system is switched off, unless a last-ditch attempt by his parents to bring him home is successful.
The 11-month-old – who suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease, and cannot breathe unassisted – has been at the centre of a harrowing dispute between his parents and the London hospital caring for him.
The case has triggered a heated debate about who should decide a child’s fate and drawing comment from US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis.
Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, wish to take their baby home and spend several days with him before his ventilation tube is removed.
Great Ormond Street Hospital said on Tuesday that was impossible for practical reasons.
A High Court judge who has presided over hearings on the case gave the parents until Wednesday to find a team of intensive care specialists willing to oversee Charlie’s care at home.
Failing that, the judge will make a ruling on Wednesday on where Charlie’s life should end.
He has indicated the best option may be a hospice – a possibility supported by the hospital and preferred by the parents to a hospital death.
Charlie’s mother made a desperate appeal late on Tuesday for a medical team to come forward to help bring Charlie home.
Great Ormond Street said it has moved “heaven and earth” to try to make it possible for Charlie to die at home but the logistical challenges and risk of a “disordered” death were insurmountable.
Yates and Gard had wanted to take him to the US to undergo experimental treatment, against the advice of Great Ormond Street doctors who said it would not help and would only prolong the baby’s suffering.
British courts, backed by the European Court of Human Rights, refused permission, saying the parents’ plan was not in Charlie’s best interests.
The parents gave up the legal battle on Monday, saying the latest scans showed Charlie’s condition had deteriorated to the point that no recovery was possible.