Charlie Gard’s parents end fight to save their critically ill baby

July 24, 2017
| Report Focus News

The parents of Charlie Gard have ended the legal fight over treatment for their terminally ill child.

The boy’s mother Connie Yates told a court hearing on Monday afternoon: “We only wanted give him a chance of life.”

But, after lawyers representing the boy’s parents announced their decision to withdraw the case as the window of opportunity for treatment had passed, she said, “a whole lot of time has been wasted”.

Ms Yates added she hoped the loss of Charlie’s life would not be in vain.

She wept as she said: “We are sorry we could not save you.”

Her heartbreaking words came after barrister Grant Armstrong, representing the boy’s parents, told Mr Justice Francis: “This case is about Charlie and for Charlie it is too late. Time has run out.

“Irreversible muscle damage has been done. The treatment now offers no chance of success.

“In light of that fact the parents have taken the extremely hard decision with their legal advisors … to withdraw their application.”

Mr Armstrong said Charlie was assessed last week and the parents were given the news on Friday.

He also said that had the treatment been authorised earlier it may have been successful.

Charlie’s first birthday falls on August 4.

The couple felt that continuing their fight would cause the boy pain, according to Mr Armstrong, who called the case “worthy of a Greek tragedy”.

Mr Armstrong added that Charlie’s parents hoped to set up a foundation and wanted lessons to be learned.

“Dark days lie ahead for these parents,” said Mr Armstrong.

“The parents wish to treasure their remaining time with Charlie, however short that may be.”

The shock announcement came after Connie Yates and Chris Gard, both in their 30s and from Bedfont, west London, arrived at the Family Division of the High Court looking close to tears.

Mr Justice Francis, who has overseen their five-month legal battle for the right to take their baby to the US for treatment, had been scheduled to analyse what the couple said was fresh evidence at a two-day trial starting at 10am on Monday.

In light of the announcement the judge paid tribute to Charlie’s parents, saying no-one could comprehend their agony.

He attacked those who have commented on the baby’s case without knowing the facts.

“One of the pitfalls of social media when a car such as this goes viral, the watching world feels entitled to express opinions regardless of whether they were evidence based.”

He also hit out at people who had made threats towards hospital staff.

“Some of the staff at the hospital have been subjected to serious threats and abuse.

I’ve made it clear before and I make it clear now, I am completely satisfied these fine parents had nothing whatsoever to do with these threats.”

He added: “It’s a disgrace they should have been subjected to any form of abuse whatsoever and I condemn it.”

The judge dismissed the “absurd notion” that Charlie had been a prisoner of the NHS, explaining that the hospital had done its duty properly.

He also said lawyers had represented Charlie for free and suggested that they should have been entitled to legal aid.

Other parents were in the same position, said Mr Justice Francis as he suggested a legal aid review.

Charlie suffers from a rare genetic disorder affecting the mitochondria, parts of the body’s cells that produce energy.

His care team at Great Ormond Street Hospital have argued that further treatment would not cure the disease and that the boy’s life support should be withdrawn to prevent prolonging his suffering.

Charlie’s parents arrived for Monday’s hearing without comment as about 20 supporters gathered with megaphones, blue balloons and banners.

The group, part of the “Charlie’s Army” movement, chanted slogans and cheered when passing cars beeped their support.

Mainly women and children, they filled the road outside court with choruses of “Trump, the Pope, they all have hope” and “We love you Charlie, we do, oh Charlie we love you.”

After the decision was announced, supporters were seen weeping and screaming in the streets.

Great Ormond Street Hospital said “the agony, desolation and bravery” of the Gards’s decision “command GOSH’s utmost respect and humble all who work there”.

A lawyer for the hospital said: “The heart of each person working at Great Ormond Street Hospital and the heart of the hospital goes out to Charlie and his mother and father.

“One of the many sadnesses in this case that greater transparency has not always led to greater understanding.

“The hospital has said all that I would wish to in its two position statements.

“I ask all those who seek to understand to read them.

“We are more sorry than I have words to say.”