Parents consider appeal after judge says treatment can be withdrawn

family law

The parents of a seriously ill baby boy are considering whether to appeal a ruling that life saving treatment can be withdrawn.

Charlie Gard has a rare genetic disorder causing progressive muscle weakness as well as brain damage. The doctors treating him claim the best option is now move him onto a ‘palliative care’ regime, in which he would receive pain relief but no active treatment.

The baby’s name and those of his parents – Chris Gard and Connie Yates – have been publicly released.

Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London applied o the court for permission to withdraw treatment. Charlie was likely to be in pain, they said, and his condition was incurable. But Charlie’s Mum and Dad objected, saying saying they believed he still had a chance if he underwent pioneering treatment in the United States.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Francis backed the doctors, saying:

“It is with the heaviest of hearts but with complete conviction for Charlie’s best interests that I find it is in Charlie’s best interests that I accede to these applications and rule that GOSH may lawfully withdraw all treatment save for palliative care to permit Charlie to die with dignity.”

He noted that no one with mitochondrial depletion syndrome has ever received the therapy in question, and the doctors administering it believe it is very unlikely to be successful.

Mr Gard and his partner now have until May 2 to decide whether or not to proceed with an appeal. In the meantime, the transfer to palliative care will be postponed.

The parents’ solicitor explained:

“The order that was made yesterday – with the agreement of the hospital – was the artificial ventilation will not be withdrawn while the parents are considering their options and their options will include the possibility of bringing an appeal to yesterday’s decision.”

She added that therapy in the US provided the parentswith a small ray of hope.

“There was a window that was open, a small window, but a window nonetheless. It wasn’t a zero per cent chance, it was a very small chance, but even a very small chance is still a chance.”

Photo of ventilator control panel by Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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8 comments

keith - April 12, 2017 at 6:46pm

Even if the child is granted the chance to go to the US for treatment and he still does not survive, at least the parents and the supporting public will take some comfort from the fact that they tried everything to save him.
they need to appeal this awful decision.

Carole Holt - April 17, 2017 at 7:01am

How can one man make a decision to take the life of a baby no matter how ill. It is something only a parent can decide. The public are understandably outraged by this decision, which seems to say that once again the ordinary person has no right to stand up to “the establishment”. This is a barbaric decision equivalent to days that I thought our civilised society had moved on from but apparently the death sentence does still exist in Btitain 2017.

drmanhattan62 - April 17, 2017 at 7:38pm

i must agree here.

Brian - April 18, 2017 at 12:37am

I’m not outraged. The judge considered the medical facts prevailing and without emotional impairment decided that the course of treatment the parents were pursuing, on advice from the medical experts gave just reason for the judge to decide that the treatment would not serve any benefit to the unfortunate child’s conditions. It would be cruel to prolong suffering and inflict unnecessary pain and therefore made judgment to withdraw life support – dying isn’t a painless experience at times for many, but keeping someone alive whose quality of life is so poor and painful just to ease the emotional trauma of the parents is plainly wrong. I’m sure it will keep the judge awake at night as it would me and it is something a human being (one with a sense of empathy) would be unable to not take home at night. Just because someone doesn’t like a judgment – doesn’t necessarily mean that judgment is wrong! Sometimes parents don’t know what is best, they can be too close to the subject. That said, medical experts are an arrogant bunch, I make reference with that comment to the Southampton NHS trust in the matter of Aysha King and their advice instead of giving due considered to proton beam therapy – which Incidentally I heard was successful with Aysha King despite the setback of a European wide manhunt with anti-terrorist European arrest warrants issued just because a parent decided that a surgeon getting both hands inside their sons skull was somewhat excessive when there were credible and viable alternatives. I think the judge in that instance was a bit too quick off the mark to jump to conclusions to help trigger a manhunt and the Southampton NHS ineptitude was mistaken for expertise. I’m still curious about that case particularly when the NHS ended up stumping up the money for the proton beam therapy (it was not wrong for the NHS to pay for it) – strange considering such an act is completely contrary to their (NHS) legal argument and position…out of court settlement possibly with terms of absolute secrecy? That one really does make me wonder…That really was made a pigs ear of by all institutions (NHS/Police & judiciary) and it does not surprise me how quickly they all go quiet when the real truth of the circumstances becomes apparent and how bad all state institutions judg(e)ments were in that case (read bbc news website article link bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-32013634) Anti-terrorist and crime prevention tools used on a parent ! C’mon…really? I commend the Kings for their balanced and well managed use of social media to make their case. I sure hope that it would have been a different judge hearing Aysha King’s welfare and medical case from the judge who rubber stamped the arrest warrants if they were all extradited…good call by the Spanish judge!
(*Comment edited – please see our moderation policy here).

drmanhattan62 - April 18, 2017 at 10:00pm

The judge and the hospital were 100% wrong to make this decision.
the parents should have the right to fight for their child regardless of pain as the outcome may mean that child surviving and later in life thanking the parents for doing what they did. any human being would rather suffer some pain than simply be put to death. we were all born to live. not die.

Lisa Byrne - April 18, 2017 at 9:10pm

I have cared for many patients whose disease may be progressing & who may have exhausted all other systemic treatments. They have then been given the chance to take part in phase one clinical trials.
I truly believe that the decision that Mr Justice Francis came to would have been a very difficult decision but my thoughts are this is the wrong decision.
This little boys Parents know there child better than anybody, they should be allowed to take this beautiful child to America & once he is there he can be assessed by the Consultant that is offering the therapy.
I feel strongly that the wrong decision has been made.
The case needs to be reviewed & that child should go to America.

Carole Holt - April 20, 2017 at 9:59am

Lisa – if you and any of your medical colleagues can help Charlie Gards parents with any information please contact their legal team so they can use it for the appeal.

Anyone who can help please do so, otherwise we are going to witness the greatest miscarriage of justice our supposedly civilised country has ever committed. Time is running out and these parents are so emotionally traumatised by these awful events they are having to cope with, just ordinary people having the impossible task of taking on the “Establishment”, as well as trying to comfort their son. If the hospital had released him when the money was raised, he would be half way through his treatment. Instead weeks are passing by but he is still fighting and so must we.

drmanhattan62 - April 20, 2017 at 7:22pm

i agree 100%.

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