For months, the legal battle between the parents of terminally ill infant Charlie Gard and London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital has raged on. Gard’s case has prompted wider questions on both sides of the Atlantic about end-of-life care, state-funded health care, and whether parents or medical professionals have the right to make medical decisions about a child who cannot advocate for himself.
But Gard’s official fight came to an end on Monday, as his parents and doctors found themselves, for the first time since the legal proceedings began, on the same side. Following the results of testing by Dr. Michio Hirano of Columbia University, an American doctor whose nucleoside therapy was seen by Gard’s parents as his last hope for survival — and by opponents as an unnecessary procedure that would produce no measurable results — Gard’s parents have withdrawn their appeal, agreeing that transporting him to the US for treatment would be fruitless.
“It’s too late for Charlie,” Grant Armstrong, the couple’s attorney, said Monday according to the Associated Press. “The damage has been done.”
Eleven-month-old Gard suffers from a hereditary, terminal disease called infantile onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS). He has been suffering degenerative brain damage since birth and cannot breathe without a ventilator or move without assistance. The condition is exceptionally rare; it’s believed to affect a few dozen children at most.
Specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where Gard is being treated, came to the conclusion that it would be in his best interest for them to remove the ventilator and begin to focus instead on palliative care for the boy’s final days. A team of specialists in Barcelona, providing a second opinion, came to the same conclusion.
But Gard’s parents, Chris Gard and Constance Yates, disagreed. They wanted to bring Charlie to America to undergo experimental treatment, called nucleoside…