Charlie Gard’s parents abandon legal fight after reaching ‘point of no return’
Chris Gard and Connie Yates announced their decision at a High Court hearing.
Charlie Gard’s parents have abandoned a legal fight over treatment for their terminally-ill baby son after concluding that he had deteriorated to the “point of no return”.
But Chris Gard and Connie Yates still think that 11-month-old Charlie might have been saved if experimental therapy had been tried sooner.
Ms Yates told a High Court judge who has overseen the dispute that if Charlie had been treated at the start of the year he would have had the potential to be a “normal, healthy little boy”.
She said time had been “wasted”.
Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London did not agree. Lawyers representing the hospital told Mr Justice Francis that the “clinical picture” six months ago had shown irreversible damage to Charlie’s brain.
They said the “unstoppable effects” of Charlie’s rare illness had become plainer as weeks passed.
A barrister representing Charlie’s parents on Monday drew the five-month legal battle to a close at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
Grant Armstrong told the judge that the couple had decided to stop pushing for Charlie to be allowed to undergo a therapy trial overseen by a specialist in New York.
He said they had made the “most painful of decisions” after reviewing new scan results.
Ms Yates outlined her thoughts in a statement. She read it from the witness box with Mr Gard at her side.
The couple wept as Ms Yates told a court packed with lawyers, relatives, supporters and journalists: “We are now going to spend our last precious moments with our son Charlie, who unfortunately won’t make his first birthday in just under two weeks’ time.”
Ms Yates said the latest scan results had forced a change of heart.
“We are truly devastated to say that following the most recent MRI scan of Charlie’s muscles … we have decided that it’s no longer in Charlie’s best interests to pursue treatment and we will let our son go and be with the angels,” she said.
“Our son has an extremely rare disease for which there is no accepted cure, but that does not mean that this treatment would not have worked, and it certainly does not mean that this shouldn’t have been tried.”
She added: “We have been asking for this short trial for the past eight months. Charlie did have a real chance of getting better if only therapy was started sooner. It was never false hope, as confirmed by many experts. Now we will never know.”
Ms Yates said: “Our poor boy has been left to just lie in hospital for months without any treatment whilst lengthy court battles have been fought.
“We have been told time and time again that Charlie has a ‘progressive disease’ but rather than allow treatment for him with a medication that was widely accepted to have no side effects, Charlie has been left with his illness to deteriorate, sadly, to the point of no return.”
Meanwhile, Pope Francis is praying for Charlie and the 11-month-old boy’s parents, the Vatican said. In a statement, it added that Francis “feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering”.
Francis, who had previously expressed support for the parents in their bid to seek an experimental medical treatment for their son’s rare genetic condition, also asked the faithful to join him in prayer so the baby’s parents “may find God’s consolation and love”.