THE parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard have dropped their legal bid to have him sent to the USA for experimental treatment, saying "a whole lot of time had been wasted" for their son.

Lawyer Grant Armstrong told the High Court on Monday parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates would withdraw their appeal to earlier rulings saying Charlie should be left to die.

He said "time has now run out" for the 11-month old who is one of just 16 in the world with a rare genetic disorder, mitochondrial depletion syndrome.

"It is no longer in Charlie's best interest to pursue this course of treatment," he said, adding that "the damage to his muscles was irreversible."

Mother Connie Yates said the decision was the "hardest thing we've ever had to do."

"We've decided to let our son go ... he's not braindead but a whole lot of time has been wasted."

Outside the court, father Chris Gard thanked hospital staff but said medical opinion they had sought assured them Charlie would have been a "normal healthy little boy".

"This has never been about 'parents know best,'" he said. "We will have to live with the 'what ifs' that will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

"Unfortunately he won't make his first birthday in just under two weeks time. Charlie, we love you so much ... we're sorry we couldn't save you."

Charlie Gard's mother and father, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, announced that they have abandoned their legal fight at the Family Division hearing at the High Court in the five month legal battle for the right for Charlie to undergo experimental therapy in the USA. Charlie suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage.
Charlie Gard's mother and father, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, announced that they have abandoned their legal fight at the Family Division hearing at the High Court in the five month legal battle for the right for Charlie to undergo experimental therapy in the USA. Charlie suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage. EPA - WILL OLIVER

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) said their "hearts go out" to the family in the tragic case. However they backed their earlier decision that not to treat Charlie based on the "irreversible neurological damage" he had suffered, meaning they believed any chance of therapy improving his condition "had departed."

The hospital also noted its "surprise and disappointment" that the doctor who provided evidence for a last minute intervention, Dr Michio Hirano, stated in court on 13 July he had not visited the hospital to examine Charlie, read his notes or seen his brain scans.

"Further, GOSH was concerned to hear the Professor state, for the first time, while in the witness box, that he retains a financial interest in some of the NBT compounds he proposed prescribing for Charlie.

"Devastatingly, the information obtained since 13 July gives no cause for optimism. Rather, it confirms that while [proposed therapy] NBT may well assist others in the future, it cannot and could not have assisted Charlie," they said.

Parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard, Chris Gard (L) Connie Yates (R) deliver a statement outside the High Court in central London, Britain, 24 July 2017.
Parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard, Chris Gard (L) Connie Yates (R) deliver a statement outside the High Court in central London, Britain, 24 July 2017. EPA - WILL OLIVER

HIGH-PROFILE BATTLE

The Charlie's Fight campaign thanked people for their "unwavering support" during the legal battle that has lasted for more than three months and reached the UK Supreme Court.

Yates and Gard have been fighting successive rulings saying their son's life support should be withdrawn and he should be left to die with dignity.

They wanted to take him to the US for experimental treatment with money raised through crowd-funding. Dr Hirano's "fresh evidence" had led to a new hearing on the issue and on Monday, Judge Nicholas Francis had been due to rule on whether the child should be allowed to leave the country.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates wept as their attorney revealed the results of brain scans. The 11-month-old has a rare genetic condition, and his parents fought hard to receive an experimental treatment. Doctors said it wouldn't help and contended Charlie should be allowed to die peacefully.
Chris Gard and Connie Yates wept as their attorney revealed the results of brain scans. The 11-month-old has a rare genetic condition, and his parents fought hard to receive an experimental treatment. Doctors said it wouldn't help and contended Charlie should be allowed to die peacefully. Family of Charlie Gard via AP

British doctors have maintained throughout the case that Gard's brain damage is "severe and irreversible" and have said the baby "may be suffering".

The heartwrenching case attracted international support from both President Trump and the Pope, with supporters calling themselves "Charlie's Army" and attending the court each day.

It also led to threats and abuse for hospital staff, forcing Chair of Great Ormond Street Hospital, Mary MacLeod, to contact police about the "shocking and disgraceful tide of hostility and disturbance" in relation to the case.

"Staff have received abuse both in the street and online," she said. "Thousands of abusive messages have been sent to doctors and nurses whose life's work is to care for sick children.

"Many of these messages are menacing, including death threats. Families have been harassed and discomforted while visiting their children, and we have received complaints of unacceptable behaviour even within the hospital itself."

News Corp Australia


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