Two British parents have given up their legal battle to take their son to the US for experimental treatment. Their lawyer said that "time had run out," judging by the 11-month-old's latest brain scans.
Connie Yates and Chris Gard on Monday announced an end to their legal bid to secure experimental treatment for their baby in the US.
"This is the hardest thing we have ever had to do," Connie Yates told the court. "We have decided to let our son go … Charlie did have a real chance of getting better. Now we will never know what would have happened if he got treatment."
Their lawyer, Grant Armstrong, said that the chance to treat their son Charlie Gard had been lost.
"For Charlie, it's too late, time has run out. Irreversible muscular damage has been done and the treatment can no longer be a success," Armstrong said. "Charlie has waited patiently for treatment. Due to delay, that window of opportunity has been lost."
Speaking in London's High Court, where a fresh ruling on allowing the baby to travel for treatment was expected this week, Armstrong said it was "no longer in Charlie's best interest to pursue this course of treatment."
Parents versus practitioners
Whether experimental treatment was ever in the baby's best interest had been the subject of heated debate. The Great Ormond Street Hospital in London treating the boy had sought to cease efforts to keep the baby alive artificially, arguing it was no longer in the patient's interest. When Gard's parents challenged this legally, saying there might be a chance abroad, British courts and the European Court of Human Rights all ruled that the treatment did not have any realistic chance of helping the child. They argued that pursuing that option would only prolong his suffering for too limited a chance of success.
Charlie Gard has a rare genetic condition called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome; it causes gradual muscle weakness and brain damage. He cannot breathe without a ventilator, can neither see nor hear, and doctors had warned he was likely suffering severe pain.
When the Gard family's legal options appeared exhausted, first Pope Francis and then US President Donald Trump waded into the debate, with Trump saying the US "would be delighted" to help if it could.
This, coupled with renewed political interest in the UK and a lead on another potential form of experimental treatment, had led to a fresh High Court hearing in London, slated for Monday and Tuesday of this week.
However, Connie Yates and Chris Gard have since chosen to cease the battle, telling their supporters on Twitter, "we thank you all for your unwavering support."
The judge hearing the case, Nicholas Francis, said no parents could have done more for their child.
msh/aw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)