World News

UK hospital seeks court hearing on new Charlie Gard evidence

Posted July 7

— A London children's hospital on Friday asked a British court to assess new evidence about the condition of Charlie Gard, a terminally ill baby at the center of a legal battle that has drawn international attention.

Great Ormond Street Hospital said it had applied for a new court hearing "in light of claims of new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition." The case is due to be heard at the High Court in London on Monday.

Charlie suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease that has left him brain damaged and unable to breathe unaided. His parents want him taken to the U.S. for experimental therapy.

But British and European courts have sided with the hospital's decision that the 11-month-old's life support should end, saying therapy would not help and would cause more suffering.

The baby's life support was due to be switched off last week, but the hospital delayed in order to give his parents more time with him.

The wrenching case has drawn interventions from Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump, who have both said they will do what they can to help.

An online campaign to send Charlie to the U.S. for treatment has raised more than 1.3 million pounds ($1.7 million). A U.S. hospital has offered to ship the drug needed for the therapy to Britain for Charlie.

The Vatican's Bambino Gesu hospital has also offered to treat Charlie.

Great Ormond Street Hospital said Friday that "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," the hospital said in a statement.

The hospital is currently bound by court rulings barring it from sending Charlie anywhere for the experimental treatment, nucleoside therapy. The rulings also say the baby's artificial ventilation should be withdrawn and he should receive only palliative care.

The hospital said a court should assess the claims of fresh evidence and "make its judgment on the facts."

"Our priority has always been, and will always be, the best interests of Charlie Gard," the hospital said.

Earlier Friday, Connie Yates told the "Good Morning Britain" TV program that five doctors had told her the experimental treatment could help her son.

"I've heard from doctors that there's around a 10 percent chance of this working for Charlie so I think that's a good enough chance to take," she said.

Britain's courts have been consistent in the case. Three courts, including the Supreme Court, agreed that the experimental treatment would be futile and may "well cause pain, suffering and distress to Charlie." The parents then took their case to the European Court of Human Rights, which refused to intervene and endorsed the British judges' decision.

But London-based medical ethicist Raanan Gillon said Friday that Charlie's parents should get the final say in whether or not their son receives treatment.

"I think the main ethical consideration is who should be making the decision about Charlie's best interests and my own view — though I have to say that most people disagree with me so far as I can find in the ethics world — my own view is that it should be the parents who decide," he said.

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