Charlie Gard: Judge to decide where baby's life will end

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Connie Yates and Chris GardImage source, PA
Image caption,
Connie Yates and Chris Gard accept Charlie should be moved to palliative care

A High Court judge is set to decide later where Charlie Gard's life will end after another dispute between his parents and hospital bosses.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates want permission to take the 11-month-old home for his final days.

But Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) said it was not practical to provide the level of life-support treatment to Charlie at the couple's London home.

It says a hospice would be a more appropriate place for him.

The court hearing is due to resume at 14:00 BST.

Doctors at the London hospital have said moving Charlie to a hospice is the best option as a ventilator would not fit through the couple's front door in Bedfont, west London.

Mr Justice Francis, who analysed the dispute at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court on Tuesday, said that, having heard the evidence, the chances of Charlie's parents' wishes being granted were small.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Charlie has a rare genetic condition and would not live to see his first birthday, his father said

Charlie has the rare genetic disorder, encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. He has brain damage and cannot move his arms or legs.

Speaking on Tuesday, Ms Yates said: "We promised Charlie every day we would take him home. It seems really upsetting after everything we've been through to deny us this."

Grant Armstrong, representing the parents, accused hospital bosses of "putting up obstacles".

"The parents wish for a few days of tranquillity outside of a hospital setting," he said.

"The parents had hoped that Great Ormond Street would work with them."

Media caption,

Chris Gard: "We are so sorry we could not save you"

But lawyers for the hospital said staff had "moved heaven and earth" for Charlie.

Katie Gollop QC said the couple's needs had to be balanced against Charlie's best interests.

She said GOSH staff had found an "excellent hospice" that would give Charlie and his parents the space, privacy and protection they needed.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Charlie has been in intensive care at Great Ormond Street Hospital since October

The latest hearing comes after Charlie's parents abandoned attempts to persuade the judge to let their son travel to the US for experimental treatment.

They had asked Mr Justice Francis to rule their son should be allowed to undergo a trial of nucleoside therapy in New York developed by Professor Michio Hirano, a move opposed by hospital medics who argued the treatment would be "futile".

But in its statement to the High Court, the hospital said it was also "increasingly surprised and disappointed" that Dr Hirano, "had not read Charlie's contemporaneous medical records or viewed Charlie's brain imaging or read all of the second opinions about Charlie's condition".

GOSH said Professor Hirano had not taken the opportunity to see Charlie until last week, despite being offered the chance to do so by the hospital in January.

Even though the professor gave written evidence at all the court cases, the hospital said it only emerged last week that he had not read the judge's ruling following the first High Court hearing in April.

The hospital added it was concerned to hear the professor state in the witness box at the High Court hearing on 13 July that he had a financial interest in some of the treatment he proposed prescribing for Charlie.

But Dr Hirano said: "I became involved in Charlie's case when I was contacted by his parents, and I subsequently agreed to speak with his doctors to discuss whether an experimental therapy being developed in my lab could provide meaningful clinical improvement in Charlie's condition.

"As I disclosed in court on 13 July, I have relinquished and have no financial interest in the treatment being developed for Charlie's condition.

"Unfortunately, a MRI scan of Charlie's muscle tissue conducted in the past week has revealed that it is very unlikely that he would benefit from this treatment."

Timeline of legal battle

Image source, PA
  • 3 March 2017: Mr Justice Francis starts to analyse the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
  • 11 April: Mr Justice Francis says doctors can stop providing life-support treatment.
  • 3 May: Charlie's parents ask Court of Appeal judges to consider the case.
  • 23 May: Three Court of Appeal judges analyse the case.
  • 25 May: Court of Appeal judges dismiss the couple's appeal.
  • 8 June: Charlie's parents lose fight in the Supreme Court.
  • 20 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights start to analyse the case after lawyers representing Charlie's parents make written submissions.
  • 27 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights refuse to intervene.
  • 3 July: The Pope and US President Donald Trump offer to intervene.
  • 7 July: Great Ormond Street Hospital applies for a fresh hearing at the High Court.
  • 24 July: Charlie's parents end their legal fight to take him to the US for treatment.

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