Charlie Gard Dies, Leaving Legacy of Thorny Ethics Questions

‘Our final wish’

They lost their fight. On Thursday, Ms. Yates, who works as a caregiver, said in statement that the hospital had “denied us our final wish.”

“Most people won’t ever have to go through what we have been through,” she said. “We’ve had no control over our son’s life and no control over our son’s death.”

But the doctors treating Charlie at Great Ormond Street Hospital in central London countered that the “risk of an unplanned and chaotic end to Charlie’s life” at home was “unthinkable.” For months, the hospital had argued that he had irreversible brain damage, that the life support should be removed and that he should be allowed the right to die with dignity.

“We deeply regret that profound and heartfelt differences between Charlie’s doctors and his parents have played out in court over such a protracted period,” the hospital said in a statement. “We will never do anything that could cause our patients unnecessary and prolonged suffering.”

Questions of ethics

The case laid bare several issues, among them: Should parents or doctors or the courts have the final say in irreconcilable disputes over the treatment of sick children?

And at what point should the limits of medicine be recognized and the parents of an incurable infant be compelled to let go?

Photo

Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, outside the High Court in central London on Monday. They abandoned their legal fight for Charlie to undergo experimental therapy.

Credit
Will Oliver/European Pressphoto Agency

Biomedical ethicists said the case offered a cautionary tale of how a legal battle, global news media scrutiny and intractable differences between parents and doctors can spiral out of control in the social media age. Both the hospital and the parents in the Gard case dug…

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