The legal battle for life has come to an end for terminally-ill British baby Charlie Gard after his parents ended their fight to bring their son to the U.S. for experimental treatment.
Chris Gard and Connie Yates announced their decision on Monday to withdraw from the emotional case, saying that it’s “too late” for treatment to work.
Their decision comes just a week after two different experts flew in to London to evaluate Charlie’s condition. Both found the likeliness of treatment at improving the child’s quality of life at this point to be extremely improbable.
The 11-month-old was born healthy in August of 2016, but was diagnosed with an extremely rare DNA disorder at just two months old. Mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome is a terminal condition believed to have only been found in 16 people ever. It causes rapid weakening of the muscles and brain damage—making treatments almost nonexistent.
But not completely.
In the early stages of his diagnosis, Chris and Connie raised nearly $2 million to bring their son to the United States for experimental treatment. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London felt that the parent’s efforts were not in the child’s best interest, and that Charlie should be able to “die with dignity.”
And so the legal battle began.
Chris and Connie’s appeal was rejected by London’s High Court, the Court of Appeals, Supreme Court in London and the European Court of Human Rights—all of which granted doctors at GOSH the right to remove the child from life support as they see fit. But a petition with over 350,000 signatures, and “fresh evidence” that the experimental treatment would work, led High Court Judge Nicholas Francis to conduct one final evaluation of the case.
In the meantime, support flowed in from leaders across the globe, including U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis of Italy.
U.S. Congress even moved to grant Charlie and his family U.S. Citizenship rights last week. However, the measure was included in a bill that still needed to be passed by the house and senate, meaning more delays for Charlie.
Ultimately, though, time is what led Chris and Connie to their decision to withdraw from the fight.
“A whole lot of time has been wasted,” Chris Gard said in a tearful statement to the press. “We are now in July and our poor boy has been left to just lie in a hospital for months without any treatment.”
The couple’s lawyer, Grant Armstrong, said that delays meant “it was no longer in Charlie’s interests” to keep him on a ventilator. He said the parents had made “the most painful of decisions, that only parents can make.”
In an emotional hearing Monday morning, Connie Yates was invited to give a statement before the court.
Choking back tears, the mother stood next to Chris Gard, and told the courtroom that all they had ever wanted was the best for their “sweet, gorgeous and incredible boy.”
She said that the care provided by GOSH doctors, nurses and staff had been second-to-none. But it was now too late for Charlie to receive the experimental treatment they’d been fighting for, as experts believe it would no longer benefit him.
“Charlie is Charlie and we wouldn’t change him for the world. All our efforts are for him, we only want to give him a chance at life,” she said. “There’s one simple reason for Charlie’s muscular deterioration [and] that was time.”
She continued, saying they knew earlier in July that treatments could work, “and our poor boy has been left there to lie in hospital without treatment while court battles are fought.”
Delays in possible treatment now meant no treatment at all for baby Charlie.
“These parents should know that no parent could have done more than they did for their child,” said Judge Francis, who is presiding over the case.
Charlie will be one year old on August 4.
As the couple’s attorney said on Monday morning, “dark days lie ahead for these parents.” They will be spending time with their son as his life comes to an end.
There is no news regarding when Charlie will be removed from the ventilator, but our continued prayers are over this case, as Chris and Connie prepare to say goodbye to their precious boy.