Parents plea to take Charlie home

The parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard have returned to court to seek permission to take their son home to die.

Lawyers for Chris Gard and Connie Yates told the High Court they wanted “a few days of tranquillity outside the hospital before Charlie passes away”.

They accused Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) of putting “obstacles” in the way of Charlie’s return home.

But the hospital said Charlie’s parents had refused an offer of mediation.

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Grant Armstrong, representing Charlie’s parents, told Mr Justice Francis that his clients’ “last wish is that Charlie dies at home”.

The lawyer said a portable ventilator and oxygen supply could be used by the 11-month-old.

Mr Armstrong added that GOSH, where he has been in intensive care since October, “says it won’t stand in the parents’ way yet is putting up obstacles”.

The judge said Great Ormond Street bosses had indicated that there were practical difficulties and had suggested a “hospice option”.

He added: “These are issues which cry out for settlement.”

‘Charlie’s interests’

Lawyers for GOSH told the judge “the hospital would like to be able to fulfil the parents’ wishes… if it is safe and practicable and in Charlie’s best interests.”

However, they said Charlie’s parents had not wished to use the services of a mediator and had proposed no clear plan.

“We need to balance parents needs and Charlie’s best interests,” lawyer Katie Gollop said.

She added the hospital wanted to fulfil Charlie’s parents’ “last desire” but that providing intensive care to Charlie outside a hospital setting was not simple.

The judge said: “If going home can be achieved within reason then I would like to achieve that for them.”

Charlie’s parents, from Bedfont, west London, said they have been spending their “last precious moments” with their terminally ill son.

Charlie has encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. He has brain damage and cannot move his arms or legs.

His parents had asked Mr Justice Francis to rule that their son should be allowed to undergo a trial of nucleoside therapy in New York, a move opposed by medics at GOSH who argued the treatment would be “futile”.

The Family Division of the High Court heard on Monday that US neurologist Professor Michio Hirano was no longer willing to offer the experimental therapy after he had seen the results of a new MRI scan last week.

In a statement to the High Court, GOSH said it was “increasingly surprised and disappointed” Professor Michio Hirano “had not read Charlie’s contemporaneous medical records or viewed Charlie’s brain imaging or read all of the second opinions about Charlie’s condition”.

The hospital said Professor Hirano had not taken the opportunity to see Charlie until last week, despite being offered the chance to do so by the hospital in January.

Even though the professor gave written evidence at all the court cases, the hospital said it only emerged last week that he had not read the judge’s ruling following the first High Court hearing in April.

The hospital added it was concerned to hear the professor state in the witness box at the High Court hearing on 13 July that he had a financial interest in some of the treatment he proposed prescribing for Charlie.

Timeline of legal battle

  • 3 March 2017: Mr Justice Francis starts to analyse the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
  • 11 April: Mr Justice Francis says doctors can stop providing life-support treatment.
  • 3 May: Charlie’s parents ask Court of Appeal judges to consider the case.
  • 23 May: Three Court of Appeal judges analyse the case.
  • 25 May: Court of Appeal judges dismiss the couple’s appeal.
  • 8 June: Charlie’s parents lose fight in the Supreme Court.
  • 20 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights start to analyse the case after lawyers representing Charlie’s parents make written submissions.
  • 27 June: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights refuse to intervene.
  • 3 July: The Pope and US President Donald Trump offer to intervene.
  • 7 July: Great Ormond Street Hospital applies for a fresh hearing at the High Court.
  • 24 July: Charlie’s parents end their legal fight to take him to the US for treatment.

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