The parents of a seriously ill baby boy are considering whether to appeal a ruling that life saving treatment can be withdrawn.
Charlie Gard has a rare genetic disorder causing progressive muscle weakness as well as brain damage. The doctors treating him claim the best option is now move him onto a ‘palliative care’ regime, in which he would receive pain relief but no active treatment.
The baby’s name and those of his parents – Chris Gard and Connie Yates – have been publicly released.
Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London applied o the court for permission to withdraw treatment. Charlie was likely to be in pain, they said, and his condition was incurable. But Charlie’s Mum and Dad objected, saying saying they believed he still had a chance if he underwent pioneering treatment in the United States.
At the High Court, Mr Justice Francis backed the doctors, saying:
“It is with the heaviest of hearts but with complete conviction for Charlie’s best interests that I find it is in Charlie’s best interests that I accede to these applications and rule that GOSH may lawfully withdraw all treatment save for palliative care to permit Charlie to die with dignity.”
He noted that no one with mitochondrial depletion syndrome has ever received the therapy in question, and the doctors administering it believe it is very unlikely to be successful.
Mr Gard and his partner now have until May 2 to decide whether or not to proceed with an appeal. In the meantime, the transfer to palliative care will be postponed.
The parents’ solicitor explained:
“The order that was made yesterday – with the agreement of the hospital – was the artificial ventilation will not be withdrawn while the parents are considering their options and their options will include the possibility of bringing an appeal to yesterday’s decision.”
She added that therapy in the US provided the parentswith a small ray of hope.
“There was a window that was open, a small window, but a window nonetheless. It wasn’t a zero per cent chance, it was a very small chance, but even a very small chance is still a chance.”
Photo of ventilator control panel by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr