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Parents told to let their baby 'die with dignity' to appeal

By Brian Farmer

The parents of a terminally-ill baby are weighing up their next move after a High Court judge ruled that doctors could stop providing life-support treatment.

Mr Justice Francis decided yesterday that eight-month-old Charlie Gard, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, should move to a palliative care regime and be allowed to "die with dignity".

Lawyers said Chris Gard and Connie Yates, who wanted their son to have a treatment trial in America, were devastated.

They said the couple wanted to challenge Mr Justice Francis's ruling in the Court of Appeal.

Hospital bosses say doctors will continue to provide life-support treatment until appeal decisions have been made.

Specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London had asked the judge to rule that withdrawing life-support treatment would be lawful.

Mr Gard and Miss Yates, who are both in their early 30s and live in Bedfont, west London, wanted to take Charlie to the United States for experimental therapy.

They had launched an appeal on a GoFundMe website and raised more than £1.2m to pay for treatment in the USA after more than 80,000 people pledged money.

Mr Justice Francis granted Great Ormond Street's application after analysing the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London over three days.

He said that he had reached his conclusion with the "heaviest of hearts", but with "complete conviction" that a move to palliative care was in Charlie's best interests.

Mr Justice Francis paid tribute to the couple and said they had shown "absolute dedication" to their "wonderful boy".

The judge, who had visited Charlie at Great Ormond Street, said it has been his "sad duty" to apply the law relating to a terminally-ill child's best interests when doctors and parents could not agree.

"I know this is the darkest day for Charlie's parents who have done everything they possibly could for him," he said.

"My heart goes out to them as I know it does for every person who has listened to this tragic case."

He said the couple had done what any parent would in trying to find a cure and treatment.

Mr Gard and Miss Yates sank their heads into their hands and wept as the judge announced his decision.

Barrister Pravin Fernado, who represented the couple, told Mr Justice Francis they wanted to appeal.

The couple's solicitor, Laura Hobey-Hamsher, said they had three weeks to formulate an appeal and wanted time to consider their next step.

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