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1-CHARLIE-GARD

Pope’s prayers for Charlie Gard as parents end legal battle

Holy Father prays for Chris Gard, Connie Yates and the little boy who captured the world’s heart -By Amanda Connelly

Pope Francis has offered his prayers for terminally ill baby Charlie Gard and his parents, after the couple faced their ‘worst nightmare’ and took the decision to end their legal challenge to have their child treated in the United States.

Grant Armstrong, representing Chris Gard and Connie Yates, told the High Court that Charlie’s parents had made the devastating decision after a US doctor said it was too late for the baby to undergo the experimental nucleoside therapy, which his parents hoped would treat his mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.

Following the July 25 decision, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, released a statement assuring the family of the Pope’s prayers.

“Pope Francis is praying for Charlie and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering,” the statement says. “The Holy Father asks that we join in prayer that they may find God’s consolation and love.”

Mr Armstrong said the parents worst nightmare had been confirmed.

“It is now too late to treat Charlie,” he said. “For Charlie, it’s too late, time has run out. Irreversible muscular damage has been done and the treatment can no longer be a success. Charlie has waited patiently for treatment. Due to delay, that window of opportunity has been lost.”

Mr Armstrong told judge Mr Justice Francis that the American Dr Michio Hirano said he was now unwilling to give the baby the treatment, after being shown the results of the new MRI scan last week.

Mr Gard and Mrs Yates, who had raised £1.3 million worth of donations to take the 11-month-old to America for treatment, will now look to set up a foundation, so that Charlie’s voice ‘continues to be heard.

They said they hope that lessons will be learned from the case.

Charlie has brain damage, is blind, deaf and is unable to move his limbs or breathe unaided.

Mr Justice Francis praised the child’s parents, adding that nobody could understand their pain or have done more for their child, and that they were now willing to accept that Charlie should be moved to palliative care to be allowed to die with dignity.

“We are now going to spend our last precious moments with our son Charlie, who unfortunately won’t make his first birthday in just under two weeks’ time,” Mr Gard said.

“Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn’t save you.”

Charlie’s mother said: “We only wanted to give him a chance of life. A whole lot of time has been wasted.”

Mr Justice Francis said he hoped lessons could be learned from Charlie’s case for future, and proposed that when parents and the hospital fail to agree on a child’s life or death treatment, they should be forced to mediate so as to avoid having to take legal action, ‘even if all that does is achieve a greater understanding by the parties of each other’s positions.’

Katie Gollop, representing Great Ormond Street Hospital, said that the hearts of everyone at the hospital ‘go out to Charlie, his mother and father.’

 

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