Parents of terminally ill infant Charlie Gard lost their final bid in the European Court of Human Rights to take their son to the US for potentially life-saving treatment. On Tuesday, ECHR ruled that the baby can be removed from life support against his parents’ wishes in the U.K., based on national court rulings.
Connie Yates and Chris Gard wanted 10-month-old Charlie, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, to undergo a therapy trial in the United States paid for with private funds. However, doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where Charlie is being cared for, argue the therapy proposed by a doctor in the US is experimental and will not help the child.
The pair has already exhausted all legal options in the UK, having lost appeals in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London. Now, ECHR as well. It announced that it is upholding what it called “meticulous, thorough” rulings in the U.K. courts, backing the hospital’s plan to withdraw life support.
The hospital’s spokesperson said the European court decision marked “the end” of a “difficult process.” However, they assured it is still their priority “to provide every possible support to Charlie’s parents” and that they will be in no rush to make any changes to the baby’s care.
Charlie has mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic condition which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. American specialists have offered an experimental therapy called nucleoside.
Connie had said that the “medications have been proven to work. We are doing the right thing to not give up on him.” However, doctors insisted the boy was in “continued pain, suffering and distress” and the trial would only “continue to cause significant harm” with no real benefit.
A fundraising appeal to pay for Charlie’s treatment in the US has raised more than £1.3m.
The family has indicated on a GoFundMe website that if they lose the battle, they would set up a charity for mitochondrial depletion syndromes. “If Charlie doesn’t get this chance, we will make sure that other innocent babies and children will be saved,” they said.