The hospital in which terminally ill infant Charlie Gard is being cared for has gone on record saying that “there will be no rush” to end life support for the child. Earlier this week a court refused to intervene in the case, clearing the way for doctors to begin the process of ending Charlie’s life support treatment.
Charlie Gard’s case didn’t come to widespread attention in the U.S. until fairly recently but his parents, who are British and live in the UK, have been in a legal fight to keep him alive for months.
Charlie was born 10 months ago with a very rare medical condition known as mitochondrial depletion syndrome. The UK’s National Service defines the syndrome as a severe condition which involves a “markedly decreased amount of mitochondrial DNA found in muscle, liver and brain tissues”. The syndrome is genetic; on her GoFundMe page, Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, disclosed that both she and Charlie’s father, Chris Gard, are carriers.
Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital petitioned the courts months ago to end Charlie’s care, saying that he was terminally ill and opining that withdrawing medical care would be in the child’s best interest. The justice hearing the case in April agreed, finding–in his words–“that the quality of life that Charlie has at present is not worth sustaining” and that Charlie “should be allowed to die peacefully and with dignity.”
The parents had wanted to take Charlie to the US where a single doctor had said he might be able to offer the family some hope. Charlie’s own physicians, though, argued that Charlie’s condition had worsened to the point that his brain damage was “irreversible” and that the US treatment would be painful but would likely do absolutely nothing for him.
Charlie’s parents appealed but, on Tuesday, exhausted their legal options when the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene.
A UK tabloid reported yesterday that Charlie’s doctors were planning to end his care today but the hospital’s statement this morning does not set any kind of timetable.