Date
18 December 2017
Connie Yates and Chris Gard, the parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard, arrive for a High Court hearing in London. Photo: NYT
Connie Yates and Chris Gard, the parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard, arrive for a High Court hearing in London. Photo: NYT

Parents of UK baby Charlie Gard agree to let him die

The parents of Charlie Gard on Monday tearfully gave up their legal battle to keep their terminally ill baby alive, saying his condition had deteriorated too far for any possible recovery, Reuters reports.

The parents said their 11-month-old son might have been able to live normally if he had received experimental US treatment earlier but too much time had been “wasted”.

“We have decided to let our son go,” his mother Connie Yates told London’s High Court, where a judge had been due to hear final arguments as to why a hospital should not turn off life support.

“Charlie did have a real chance of getting better. Now we will never know what would have happened if he got treatment.”

Charlie has a rare genetic condition causing progressive muscle weakness and brain damage and his parents had sought to send him to the United States to undergo therapy, in a campaign backed by U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

Britain’s courts, backed by the European Court of Human Rights, refused permission, saying it would prolong his suffering without any realistic prospect of helping the child.

The parents had begun a final attempt to reverse that decision, saying there was new evidence which showed the therapy offered by Michio Hirano, a professor of neurology at New York’s Columbia University Medical Center, could work for Charlie.

Hirano had said he believed there was at least a 10 percent chance his nucleoside therapy could improve the condition of the boy, who cannot breathe without a ventilator, and that there was a small but significant chance it could aid brain functions.

But the court heard on Monday that scans last week showed Charlie’s muscular condition had deteriorated so much that treatment would no longer work.

A Vatican spokesman said Pope Francis was praying for Charlie and his parents and that he “feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering”.

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