London, England, Jul 26, 2017 / 02:33 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After ending their legal fight to seek further treatment for their 11-month-old son, the parents of Charlie Gard are now in a dispute with Great Ormond Street Hospital over whether they may take the boy home to live out his final days.
The judge in the case, Justice Peter Francis, is set to pass down a decision by noon on Thursday. However, he said that “(i)t looks like the chances are small” of the boy being brought home. His parents hope to have a week with him after he has been moved to a final location.
On Monday, Christ Gard and Connie Yates, the boy’s parents, announced that they were ending their legal fight for additional treatment for their son. Their lawyer told the High Court that “time had run out” for Charlie. They have expressed the desire that he be moved home “for a few days of tranquility” before life support is withdrawn on July 31, four days before Charlie’s first birthday.
Great Ormond Street Hospital has said that it is impossible for Charlie to receive life support at home, arguing that his ventilator “cannot fit through the family’s front door.” It has instead offered a hospice space for Charlie. Previously, the hospital had promised that they “won’t stand in the way,” according to Grant Armstrong, the couple’s lawyer, but now they were setting up “obstacles.”
Katie Gollop, lawyer for the hospital, said that while the hospital wished to fulfill the parents’ final wishes, the reality of bringing the child home is not “practically” possible. The parents have offered to pay any expenses of Charlie being brought home. The couple has raised nearly $1.75 million in funds for Charlie’s care.
On Tuesday, the Vatican-owned Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesu, commonly called “the Pope’s hospital,” issued a statement on Charlie. In early July, the hospital had offered for the child to be transferred to its facilities for life support and treatment after Pope Francis stated his support of the Gard family. The hospital said that experimental therapy “could have been an opportunity for Charlie and it will be an opportunity for all the patients with the same or a similar rare disease.”
However, the child’s progressive muscular deterioration had “ma(de) it impossible to start the experimental care plan.” “Much to our regret, we realized that we probably arrived too late,” the hospital said. Additionally, “(w)e are not in a position to know what might have happened 6 months ago. We cannot know if Charlie would have responded to the experimental therapy.” “What we know is that we did what Charlie's mother asked us to do.”
The Vatican hospital also noted “another result: an in-depth international confrontation at the clinical and scientific level: an extraordinary event, of great importance for the future of rare diseases.” “For the first time, the international scientific community has gathered around a single patient, to carefully evaluate all the possibilities. The clinical and scientific international community created a synergic network, fighting together for the life of a little boy.” They called this “the true legacy of Charlie.”
Charlie Gard was born last year on August 4. His condition was discovered in October, and he was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital. In April, Justice Francis ruled that the hospital could allow the child to die after doctors and the court had deemed treatment futile, against the wishes of the child’s parents. In May, the Court of Appeal upheld the ruling, and judges for the European Court of Human Rights declined to intervene in June.
Charlie’s case began garnering international attention after this, with some ethicists comparing the situation to that of euthanasia. The child’s case grew more complicated in early July, however.
On July 2, the Pope stated his support of the parents, and Bambino Ges√π offered to take Charlie the next day, an offer which was ultimately not accepted.
On July 17, Charlie was examined by U.S. neurologist who claimed that an experimental therapy could provide up to a 10 percent chance of improvement in the child’s condition. This came after unpublished research suggested there was a chance for some reversal in Charlie’s brain damage. However, after new medical reports were revealed in court last week, Yates and Gard conceded that Charlie no longer has a chance for improvement, and on Monday withdrew their legal fight.
The child suffers from permanent brain damage and cannot breathe on his own. His mother has expressed hope that he can spend a week in hospice before life support is withdrawn.