The parents of a critically ill infant in the United Kingdom have withdrawn their weeks-long efforts to get Charlie Gard to the United States for experimental therapy. Their attorney told the court today that time had run out for Charlie as the parents burst into tears:
BREAKING: Attorney for Charlie Gard's parents say they have withdrawn their legal bid to treat the infant.
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 24, 2017
MORE: Lawyer for parents of Charlie Gard say time has run out for him to have treatment pic.twitter.com/o1LuMAsz2I
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 24, 2017
Lawyer Grant Armstrong says Chris Gard and Connie Yates are withdrawing their appeal to court orders saying Charlie’s treatment should end.
The couple cried at London’s High Court on Monday as their lawyer said time had run out for 11-month-old Charlie.
The Guardian has a more direct quote from barrister Grant Armstrong:
Armstrong said Charlie’s parents had made a decision following the latest medical reports and scans.
Armstrong said damage to 11-month-old Charlie’s muscle and tissue was irreversible. “The parents’ worst fears have been confirmed,” he said. “It is now too late to treat Charlie.”
What a horrific ending to an already horrific experience for Gard and Yates. Perhaps the treatment offered by American doctors would have changed nothing for Charlie; its status as experimental therapy didn’t necessarily promise a lot of hope, and Charlie’s version mitochondrial depletion is as bleak a diagnosis as it gets. Yet had the parents been allowed to use the private resources they had accumulated and exercised their choice to get Charlie that last chance, his life may have turned out better. We’ll never know now.
Armstrong made that point clear in court, too:
Armstrong said: “Charlie has waited patiently for treatment. Due to delay, that window of opportunity has been lost.”
If Gard and Yates can take comfort at all, it’s that their child helped shine a light on the danger of encroaching state prerogative and a parallel utilitarian view of life. Popular culture has slowly twisted into a bias toward death rather than love and care, even when parents or other family members desperately want to provide the latter. That’s becoming true in the US as well as Europe, but parents such as Gard and Yates would still have the legal privilege of making that decision rather than having doctors and courts strip them of it. Charlie brought all of that into sharp focus, but the tragedy is that he will never have the chance to benefit from it — and we will never know whether he could have benefited from it, thanks to a system that ran out the clock on him.
All that is left for us to do is to pray for Charlie, and for Chris Gard and Connie Yates. Say a prayer for ourselves too, that we may not forget the lessons learned in this crisis.
Update: Gard and Yates will use the £1.3 million they raised for Charlie’s treatment to establish a foundation, the BBC reports, to make sure Charlie’s voice “continues to be heard.”
Update: Connie Yates’ statement is heartbreaking:
“Charlie did have a real chance of getting better,” said Connie Yates on Monday. “Now we will never know what would have happened if he got treatment,” she said in tears alongside Gard’s father at London’s High Court.
Will the proper lessons be learned from that?
Update: Via Jake Tapper, Chris Gard’s statement was more direct about the delay that left Charlie with no options:
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) July 24, 2017
The arguments from Great Ormond Street Hospital and the courts wound up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Had the parents been allowed to exercise their prerogative in seeking alternate care in the first place, Charlie would never have declined to the point of having no “quality of life.”