Court Says Doctors Can Withdraw Life Support From Sick Baby Against Parents’ Wishes

April 11, 2017
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Great Ormond Street Hospital Specialists said that 8-month-old baby Charlie Gard has irreversible brain damage and that he should be moved to palliative care.

The baby’s parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard, from London, had wanted to take him to the US for a treatment trial. The parents said they were “devastated” by the decision but intended to appeal.

Their solicitor, Laura Hobey-Hamsher, said they can’t understand why Mr Justice Francis had not “at least given Charlie the chance of treatment”. She said that the parents would take further advice on challenging the ruling – they have 3 weeks to lodge an appeal.

In his judgment, Mr. Justice Francis said he made the decision with the “heaviest of hearts” but with “complete conviction” that it was in the best interests of the child.He paid tribute to the parents for “their brave and dignified campaign on his behalf” and “their absolute dedication to their wonderful boy, from the day that he was born”.

He said: “I know this is the darkest day for Charlie’s parents…my heart goes out to them.I only hope in time they will come to accept it is in Charlie’s best interests to let him slip away peacefully and not put him through more pain and suffering.”

Charlie has a disorder called mitochondrial depletion syndrome which causes progressive muscle weakness. His parents had told the Family Division of the High Court they wanted to give their baby “one chance of life”.

Mr Gard was “shaking and visibly very upset” as he awaited judgment and when the judge ruled the treatment could be withdrawn, he shouted “no” and both he and Ms Yates broke down in tears.

During 5 days of evidence, Francis heard competing arguments over Charlie’s future.

Debra Powell QC, representing hospital specialists, had told the court a number of “world-renowned” experts agreed the child should not be given long-term life support. They said his “quality of life” is “so poor”.

Barrister Victoria Butler-Cole, who was appointed to represent the baby, said proposed treatment in the US was “purely experimental” and continuing his life support would just “prolong the process of dying”.

The Parents’ attorney, Sophia Roper, argued that Charlie would not suffer significant harm if he was taken to the U.S and should be given a chance to improve. She also claimed that his parents’ wishes should carry “great weight”.

The parents had even set up a crowdfunding campaign to fund the treatment abroad which raised over £1.25m.

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