Devastated parents weep as court rules their baby should die

Charlie Gard. Doctors can withdraw life-support treatment from the baby with a rare genetic condition against his parents' wishes, a High Court judge has ruled. (Photo:  Family handout/PA Wire

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Charlie Gard. Doctors can withdraw life-support treatment from the baby with a rare genetic condition against his parents' wishes, a High Court judge has ruled. (Photo: Family handout/PA Wire )
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The devastated parents of a baby at the centre of a ‘right-to-treatment’ court case wept as a judge ruled he should be allowed to die.

Connie and Chris Gard fled the the High Court after a judge announced his decision to end their son’s Charlie’s life-support and are struggling to understand why the judge had not “at least given Charlie the chance of treatment”, their solicitor has said.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates with their son Charlie (Photo: Family handout/PA Wire

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Chris Gard and Connie Yates with their son Charlie (Photo: Family handout/PA Wire )

Laura Hobey-Hamsher spoke after Mr Justice Francis told the High Court he had reached his decision with the “heaviest of hearts” but with “complete conviction” for Charlie’s best interests.

There was a scream of ‘no’ in the court as the decision about eight-month-old Charlie’s care was announced by the judge, who had analysed evidence over three days and visited the child at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Mr Justice Francis ruled that life-support treatment should stop after analysing evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Charlie, who was born on August 4, 2016, has a form of mitochondrial disease, a condition which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage.

Giving his ruling, Mr Justice Francis said he had decided Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity.

He praised the little boy’s parents for their campaign and paid tribute to their devotion.

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Speaking after the ruling, Ms Hobey-Hamsher, who works for law firm Bindmans, said: “Connie and Chris are devastated by today’s decision.”

She added: “They are struggling to understand why the court has not at least given Charlie the chance of treatment in America.”

The lawyer said the couple were “profoundly grateful” for the “help and generosity” they had received.

She said they wanted time to consider their next move and added: “Their immediate priority is returning to, and spending time with, Charlie.”

The couple wept as the judge announced his decision and left the court room soon afterwards.

Specialists at the hospital in London think it is time to stop providing life support treatment for Charlie.

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Doctors say the boy, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, should move to a palliative care regime.

But Charlie’s parents, who are both in their early 30s, disagreed.

Postman Chris Gard and Connie Yates, of Bedfont, west London, want to be allowed to take him to a hospital in the US for a treatment trial.

Mr Justice Francis said: “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 Great Ormond Street may lawfully withdraw all treatment save for palliative care to permit Charlie to die with dignity.

“I want to thank the team of experts and carers at Great Ormond Street, and others who cannot be named, for the extraordinary care that they have provided to this family.

“Most importantly of all, I want to thank Charlie’s parents for their brave and dignified campaign on his behalf, but more than anything to pay tribute to their absolute dedication to their wonderful boy, from the day that he was born.”

Charlie’s parents launched an appeal on the GoFundMe website two months ago, saying they needed £1.2 million to fund the treatment.

They reached their target on Sunday as more than 80,000 people donated money.

A GoFundMe spokesman said officials would have discussions with Charlie’s parents about what would happen to the money.

He said: “We’ll be speaking privately to the family in the next few days about what they want to do and how we can support them.”