Never mind? Hospital now wants hearing to consider treatment for Charlie Gard

Remember how the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) was sooooo certain that no possible therapy might save the life of Charlie Gard that it fought his parents in court to prevent them from attempting it? Recall how the EU’s Human Rights Court sided with GOSH on the utter futility of such efforts, and how ethicists insisted that the parents needed to accept reality and stop making life an “idol”?

Yeah … never mind.

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has applied for a fresh hearing in the case of Charlie Gard following claims of “new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition”.

Seven medical experts wrote a letter to the hospital suggesting unpublished data could help cure the 11-month-old’s brain damage.

Previously, the High Court said it was unlikely a US doctor offering to treat Charlie would be able to cure him.

GOSH said it would “explore” the data.

Sky News had more on the latest developments:

In a statement, the hospital said: “We have just met with Charlie’s parents to inform them of this decision and will continue to keep them fully appraised of the situation.

“Two international hospitals and their researchers have communicated to us as late as the last 24 hours that they have fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment.

“And we believe, in common with Charlie’s parents, it is right to explore this evidence.”

Bear in mind that, under the hospital’s original plan, Charlie would have been removed from the ventilator a few days ago. This “evidence” would have been moot, and Charlie would likely have already died. And besides, this is not fresh evidence, but a continuing stream of efforts to convince GOSH that Charlie’s parents did still have options left to pursue, whether GOSH wanted to provide them or not.

Thanks to the court orders that GOSH sought, they are now expressly prohibited from allowing Charlie access to that care. That’s why the hospital has to get another hearing to overturn that order before Charlie’s parents can act on their desires to see him treated. Will the judge address the huge contradiction that exists now between their earlier representations of having perfect knowledge of Charlie’s prognosis just a few weeks ago and their new application on the basis of “fresh evidence” for potential treatment? If so, the judge should have to answer for that too, as well as the EU’s court.

Wesley Smith has his suspicions about this hearing, however:

The cynic in me worries that the hospital wants to discredit the proposed experimental treatment and/or the ability to move Charlie to a different hospital.

Bad Wesley! That would just be a PR move that would have nothing to do with acting in the “best interests” of Charlie. So let us assume the hospital is acting in good faith until we have reason to believe otherwise.

The GOSH statement did also emphasize their confidence in their earlier decision, but this looks like an escape attempt anyway. The application for a new hearing should be embarrassing enough that it outweighs the potential upside. After all, the court already granted GOSH’s status as the chief holder of Charlie’s interests, eclipsing that of his own parents, when the nucleoside treatment was very much the center of that debate. Having to go back to reopen that debate would automatically tend to bias against GOSH’s previous position. Given the avalanche of bad press that GOSH, NHS, and the UK have experienced over the last week especially, this looks like a strategy to get out from under this controversy and let the parents take control over Charlie’s care … which is precisely what should have happened in the first place.