Charlie Gard’s Parents Forced to Give Up Fighting for His Life after ‘Too Much Time was Wasted” in Courts

The battle to save the life of terminally-ill baby, Charlie Gard, has ended.

In a case that has received global attention–earning support from the Pope, the President, and members of the U.S. Congress–Charlie Gard’s parents have fought London-based Great Ormond Street Hospital to keep their 11-month-old son alive. But from their perspective, they have lost. In a case that has re-ignited debates centered on the right of hospitals, the role of health-care funding, and the responsibility of medical intervention, Charlie has lingered too long to receive the treatment he needed.

In the words of the couple’s lawyer, Grant Armstrong, “For Charlie, it is too late. The damage has been done.”

Rare genetic condition

Charlie was diagnosed with encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. This rare condition has caused brain damage that means Charlie cannot breathe apart from life support, is unable to hear, has epilepsy, and–according to hospital professionals–has experienced damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. U.K. doctors do not wish to prolong his life because they cannot determine if he is experiencing pain.

Despite this devastating diagnosis, the family–along with an army of ardent supporters around the world, including notable political and religious figures–fought to get him the help and treatment necessary.

The couple actively pursued efforts to transport Charlie to the United States to receive treatment. These efforts included getting an assessment from a U.S. doctor.

Since October, Charlie has been treated at the Great Ormond Street Hospital, where doctors came to the public and highly-disputed decision that Charlie suffered from irreversible brain damage and should receive no further treatment, save palliative care, a decision his parents vehemently disputed. Charlie’s parents believed a treatment–which has not been tested on humans with Charlie’s exact condition–could potentially restore the muscular and brain function he needed to live a productive life.

The couple–along with their legal team–worked tirelessly to get Charlie experimental treatment, including a trip to the United States for help. Dr. Michio Hirano, a neurologist in the United States, studied Charlie’s most recent MRI scan last week, saying, “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.”

Hirano’s findings essentially brought the brutal case to an abrupt end.

Surprise public statement

On Monday, July 24, Charlie Gard’s parents gave an unexpected and somber address to the press on the steps of the U.K. High Court.

“This is one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to say and we are about to do one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do,” said Chris Gard, Charlie’s father, reading from a page in his hand. He then proceeded to explain that it was not in Charlie’s best interest to pursue further treatment.

Because the disease causes the muscles to progressively grow weaker, leading to organ failure, the long months of waiting and fighting have left Charlie unable to recover from his rare diagnosis. Charlie’s father indicated that–based on assessments from the doctors–he believes his son might have been saved had he been given the experimental treatment earlier in the process. In his words, “a whole lot of time has been wasted.”

Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, said, “To let our beautiful little Charlie go” will be “the hardest thing we’ll ever have to do.”

The impact of this decision

In his short life, Charlie has made a deep and lasting impact on many people around the world and has re-opened many centuries-old debates centered on the issue of quality of life and who has the right to determine when a person lives and dies.

Specifically, one aspect of Charlie Gard’s story has received too little attention in the press, and that is–should human life be protected or terminated based on a person’s pain level or qualify of life?

For the Christian who believes all human beings are made in the image of God, Charlie Gard’s case–and specifically supporting the decision of the high court–opens Pandora’s box for future and unpredictable cases. Could handicapped children, mentally ill patients, or aging adults eventually find themselves on the wrong end of a court decision? Time will tell how this story impacts others.

In the meantime, at a hearing set in London for today, a judge will determine where Charlie Gard will die. Charlie’s parents would like to take him home for his final hours on earth.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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