Judge Orders Terminally Ill Baby to be Taken Off Life Support Against Parents’ Wishes
Two parents in the U.K. have suffered a devastating loss in court this week, because the judge has ordered their terminally ill baby to be taken off life support against their wishes. According to the BBC, the little boy named Charlie Gard suffers from an extremely rare disorder called mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which depletes the muscles, kidney, and brain. He’s only the 16th recorded case of this disease ever happening. He is now on life support and his doctors want to take him off, but his parents have been fighting to keep him on life support so they can try an experimental new treatment. In the ruling this week, the judge sided with the doctors.
Charlie Gard seemed perfectly healthy when he was born, but he got progressively sicker and sicker, until the devastating diagnosis came in. It’s usually fatal within the first year of life, and Charlie is eight months old. He’s currently on life support, and his doctors testified that he has suffered irreversible brain damage. The hospital said it was time to take Charlie off life support, but his parents refused, so the hospital took the case to court to override the parents’ decision.
Charlie’s parents want to take their son to the U.S. for an experimental treatment with a doctor who has had some success treating another child with a similar but less severe version of mitochondrial depletion syndrome. That doctor has said it is not a cure, but a treatment, and he’s seen modest benefits with that other child, and Charlie’s parents want to take him to the U.S. to try the same treatment. They say Charlie has nothing to lose, and if the treatment could help him regain some strength or live longer, then they want to try it.
A GoFundMe account has raised $1.5 million to take Charlie to the U.S., but this week a judge sided with Charlie’s doctors, who say the treatment the parents seek could only “prolong the process of dying.”
On Tuesday, Judge Nicholas Francis said the case was devastating, but he was siding with the hospital.
“I know this is the darkest day for Charlie’s parents,” he said in his statement. “My heart goes out to them. I only hope in time they will come to accept it is in Charlie’s best interests to let him slip away peacefully, and not put him through more pain and suffering.”
Charlie’s parents have three weeks to launch an appeal, which they have every intention of doing.