A judge at the High Court in London is hearing new evidence before ruling on whether a critically ill child should be sent for treatment to the US or be taken off life support. The case has drawn world attention.
The High Court in London is holding a two-day hearing during which a judge will hear final arguments on whether the parents of a critically ill 11-month infant can take him to the United States for experimental therapy, or the hospital should turn off his life support.
The baby, Charlie Gard, has a rare genetic condition, called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, that causes gradual muscle weakness and brain damage. He cannot breathe without a ventilator.
The parents have been fighting in the courts for permission to have Charlie undergo treatment by Michio Hirano, a professor of neurology at New York's Columbia University Medical Center. Hirano believes there is at least a 10-percent chance that his treatment could improve Charlie's condition.
Up to now, however, all UK courts, and the European Court of Human Rights, have ruled that the experimental therapy did not have any realistic chance of helping the child, and would only prolong his suffering.
Last week, Great Ormond Hospital, where Charlie is being cared for, told his parents that the latest scan of the child's brain made for "sad reading."
The case has aroused heated debate about medical ethics and the extent of parental responsibility. Even US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis have weighed in on the discussion , with Trump offering "to help."
Activists supporting Charlie Gards' parents congregated on Sunday afternoon for a vigil outside the High Court in central London where legal proceedings are resuming on Monday.
The chairwoman of Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is being cared for, said the hospital has contacted police over threats received by its staff over the case.
"Staff have received abuse both in the street and online," Mary MacLeod said on Saturday. "Thousands of abusive messages have been sent to doctors and nurses whose life's work is to care for sick children. Many of these messages are menacing, including death threats."
MacLeod said families visiting other ill children have also been "harassed and discomforted" on the grounds of the hospital.
tj/rc (AP, Reuters)