Judge orders Charlie Gard to be moved to hospice

Baby's parents get a few hours to say goodbye before he is taken off ventilation

LONDON • Charlie Gard will spend his final hours in a hospice before a ventilator that keeps him alive is turned off, a judge ruled yesterday, after a harrowing legal battle that prompted a debate over who has the authority to decide the fate of a sick child.

Charlie's distraught parents had been trying to find a medical team that could look after their ailing boy in a hospice for several days so that they could bid farewell to him just days before his first birthday, which is due on Aug 4.

A judge had given the parents until noon London time yesterday to reach an agreement with Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is being treated, on spending more time in a hospice. But no compromise was reached, so a judge ruled that Charlie's artificial ventilation should be turned off.

"It is not in Charlie's best interests for artificial ventilation to continue to be provided to him and it is therefore lawful and in his best interests for it to be withdrawn," Judge Nicholas Francis said in an order.

Judge Francis ruled that Charlie would be transferred to a hospice and his ventilation withdrawn, according to a copy of the order seen by Reuters.

He also ruled that the name of the hospice, and details in a confidential annex about the arrangements for Charlie's death, should not be published.

Charlie, who is 11 months old, suffers from an extremely rare genetic condition causing progressive brain damage and muscle weakness. A ventilator keeps him alive. He cannot move his arms or legs, and cannot see, hear or swallow. His eyelids cannot stay open.

Charlie, who is 11 months old, suffers from an extremely rare genetic condition causing progressive brain damage and muscle weakness. A ventilator keeps him alive.

After reluctantly accepting that there was no hope for Charlie, his parents, Ms Connie Yates and Mr Chris Gard, had sought to take their son home to die.

But Great Ormond Street Hospital said that it would not be possible because of the invasive ventilation equipment needed to keep Charlie alive.

His parents then tried to find an intensive care doctor to oversee a plan that would allow Charlie to be ventilated in a hospice for several days.

A lawyer for Charlie's court-appointed guardian had told the High Court that no hospice could provide care for intensively ventilated children for a long time, so the parents' wish to spend several days with him could not be fulfilled.

Charlie's parents fundamentally believed only they had the right to decide what medical treatment their child received, prompting a battle with Great Ormond Street Hospital, one of the world's most prestigious children's hospitals.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'Judge orders Charlie Gard to be moved to hospice'. Print Edition | Subscribe