After nearly a year of legal and medical battles, the parents of a terminally-ill baby have lost their final appeal and will soon lose their son. On Wednesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that 10-month-old Charlie Gard—who suffers from a rare condition called mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which affects the part of the cell that supplies energy to his muscles, kidneys, and brain—cannot seek treatment in the United States as his parents had hoped and will instead “die with dignity” in the U.K. hospital he calls home.
As Faithwire has reported, London parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates have been engaged in a months-long legal dispute with their son’s doctors, who want to take the child off life support. The infant has been in intensive care since last October and is allegedly unable to see, hear, move, cry, or swallow.
When the parents learned of a potentially life-saving treatment available in the U.S., however, they asked to move their son so he could undergo a therapy trial. According to the Daily Mail, Gard and Yates raised nearly $2 million to facilitate the transfer of care, but the medical professionals in charge of their son’s treatment pushed back. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, where the boy is being cared for, said such an experimental treatment would be futile and have instead insisted the child be allowed to “die with dignity.”
A drawn out legal battle has ensued, with Charlie’s parents doing everything in their power to keep their child alive. In April, a U.K. High Court judge ruled in favor of the doctors, and three Court of Appeal judges upheld the ruling in May. Earlier this month, three Supreme Court justices “dismissed a further challenge by the couple,” but the Gard and Yates decided to take their case the European Court of Human Rights.
Sadly, the Strasbourg, France-based ECHR rejected a last-ditch plea on Tuesday, stating that the decision was “final.” An official statement from the court read:
“Today the European Court of Human Rights has by a majority endorsed in substance the approach by the domestic courts and thus declared the application inadmissible. The decision is final.
The case concerned Charlie Gard, a baby suffering from a rare and fatal genetic disease.
In February 2017, the treating hospital sought a declaration from the domestic courts as to whether it would be lawful to withdraw artificial ventilation and provide Charlie with palliative care.
Charlie’s parents also asked the courts to consider whether it would be in the best interests of their son to undergo experimental treatment in the US.
The domestic courts concluded that it would be lawful for the hospital to withdraw life sustaining treatment because it was likely that Charlie would suffer significant harm if his present suffering was prolonged without any realistic prospect of improvement, and the experimental therapy would be of no effective benefit.
The domestic court decisions had been meticulous, thorough and reviewed at three levels of jurisdiction with clear and extensive reasoning giving relevant and sufficient support for their conclusions; the domestic courts had direct contact with all those concerned.
The domestic courts had concluded, on the basis of extensive, high-quality expert evidence, that it was most likely Charlie was being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress and that undergoing experimental treatment with no prospects of success would offer no benefit, and continue to cause him significant harm.”
It is now just a matter of time before the baby is taken off life support, and in the aftermath of the court’s ruling, social media erupted in anger, with the #CharlieGard being used to send prayers to the family and condemn the decision.
#CharlieGard How can you sleep at night GOSH Doc's.
Using donations to fight parents in court. Absolutely devastated for his parents.
— Steph Weston (@stephwring) June 27, 2017
— Gary Spike OSullivan (@spike_osullivan) June 27, 2017
The #CharlieGard case is terrible. Shame on the UK judges allowing him to die, shameful, terrible decision.
— TomDUK (@TomDUK1) June 27, 2017
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children also released a statement claiming their thoughts are with the child and his parents as this “difficult process” comes to an end:
“Our thoughts are with Charlie’s parents on receipt of this news that we know will be very distressing for them.
Today’s decision by the European Court of Human Rights marks the end of what has been a very difficult process and our priority is to provide every possible support to Charlie’s parents as we prepare for the next steps.
There will be no rush by Great Ormond Street Hospital to change Charlie’s care and any future treatment plans will involve careful planning and discussion.”
H/T: Daily Mail