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Judge to make treatment decision in court dispute over sick baby

A High Court judge is to decide whether doctors can withdraw life-support treatment from a baby boy who suffers from a rare genetic condition and is unable to cry.

Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London say seven-month-old Charlie Gard should move to a palliative care regime.

Charlie's parents disagree. Postman Chris Gard, 32, and Connie Yates, 31, of Bedfont, London, want to take their son to a hospital in America where they hope he can get pioneering treatment.

A judge examined preliminary issues in the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Friday.

Mr Justice Francis said issues would be fully analysed at a hearing in early April.

The judge said the case was tragic and offered his sympathy to Charlie's parents.

He said everyone involved had Charlie's best interests at heart.

The judge sat in open court.

He said everyone involved could be named because information about the case had emerged prior to the hearing.

The judge heard that Charlie, who was born on August 4 2016, had a form of mitochondrial disease - a condition which causes progressive muscle weakness.

A barrister representing doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital gave some detail of the little boy's difficulties.

Katie Gollop QC said Charlie could not cry and was deaf.

She said doctors thought that a withdrawal of life support treatment would be in Charlie's best interests and told the judge: "The hospital's position is that every day that passes is a day that is not in the child's best interests."

Ms Gollop said Great Ormond Street specialists had considered the type of treatment Charlie's parents wanted him to have in America and decided not to adopt it.

Barrister Sophia Roper, who represents Charlie's parents, told the judge: "His parents believe that he is in much better shape than the hospital does."

Mr Justice Francis heard that an American hospital had agreed to accept Charlie as a patient if treatment could be paid for.

The judge was told that Charlie's parents were trying to raise money.

He heard Charlie would have to fly in an air ambulance with nurses if he went to America.

Lawyers said a hospital in Spain had decided against accepting him as a patient.

Mr Justice Francis said Charlie's parents were "utterly devoted" to him.

The judge said the couple had his "deepest sympathy".

"It is the most tragic situation," he said.

"This is one of the saddest types of case that comes before this court."

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