Leader comment: Tragic case of Charlie Gard

The heartbreaking case of Charlie Gard offered little prospect of a happy ending, with the odds always heavily stacked against what would have been little short of a medical miracle to save the terminally ill baby.

Terminally ill Charlie Gard will now be moved to palliative care.
Terminally ill Charlie Gard will now be moved to palliative care.

His parents have now accepted that it is time to let their son go, ending their legal battle to take him to the United States for experimental treatment which had a slim chance of being effective. With the baby’s condition having deteriorated the legal arguments took place, his parents have been told it is now too late to begin the treatment they had wanted to give to their child.

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While there will be criticism that the delay cost Charlie Gard his only hope of life, there is no evidence that the experimental treatment would have made a difference at any stage.

But an uneasy feeling remains as this tragic story reaches it conclusion. Experimental treatments have produced extraordinary results in the past, with survivors of apparently terminal illness telling the tale of the pioneering doctor who confounded medical opinion and convention to save a life. The experts might have said the new treatment would never work – but it did.