Charlie Gard Case Returns to Court as 2 US Lawmakers Aim to Make Baby Permanent US Resident

By Patrick Goodenough | July 10, 2017 | 4:28 AM EDT

Charlie Gard has a rare hereditary condition. (Photo: Charlie Gard Go Fund Me page)

(CNSNews.com) – Monday may bring new hope for the parents of terminally-ill British baby Charlie Gard, after the London hospital at the center of the drama decided to seek a new court decision following fresh claims relating to experimental treatment available in the United States.

The case, which has drawn international attention and support for Charlie’s parents from President Trump and Pope Francis among many others, will return to the same High Court judge who ruled last April that the baby, who has a rare genetic condition, should be allowed to die.

That ruling by Justice Francis, who forbade the hospital from transferring Charlie to any other facility to receive so-called “nucleoside” therapy, was upheld on appeal and then by Britain’s Supreme Court. The European Court of Human Rights late last month declined to intervene.

The Great Ormond Street Hospital has argued that the treatment abroad sought by Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, would not help.

But on Friday, it agreed to return to court.

“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,” the hospital said in a statement. “And we believe, in common with Charlie’s parents, it is right to explore this evidence.”

On Sunday, Gard and Yates presented the hospital with a petition carrying 350,000 signatures, calling for their baby – whose first birthday will be on August 4 – to be allowed to travel to the U.S. for the treatment. The couple has raised more than $1.7 million to pay for it.

“There’s now seven doctors supporting us from all over the world – from Italy, from America, from England as well, that think that this has a chance,” Yates said outside the hospital. “It’s got, you know, up to ten percent chance of working for Charlie. And we feel that that’s a chance worth taking.”

“He’s our son, he’s our flesh and blood,” she said. “We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life.”

Charlie has a hereditary condition known as infantile-onset mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS), and is reportedly unable to breathe without the help of a ventilator.

The Great Ormond Street Hospital has not changed its own opinion that the treatment sought by Charlie’s parents will be unhelpful, but says the court should decide “in light of the claimed new evidence.”

“Our doctors have explored every medical treatment, including experimental nucleoside therapies,” it said.

“Independent medical experts agreed with our clinical team that this treatment would be unjustified. Not only that, but they said it would be futile and would prolong Charlie’s suffering.”

On Friday, U.S. Reps Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) and Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) announced plans to introduce legislation as soon as Congress resumes after its July 4 recess this week that would grant Charlie and his parents lawful permanent residence in the U.S.

“Our bill will support Charlie’s parents’ right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life,” they said.

“Should this little boy to be ordered to die – because a third party, overriding the wishes of his parents, believes it can conclusively determine that immediate death is what is best for him?” Wenstrup and Franks asked.

“Every human life has dignity, including the lives of those who cannot speak up for themselves. When government is able to overrule a parent or guardian in determining a patient’s best interest, every vulnerable patient is put at risk.”

On July 4, Trump threw his support behind the parents’ campaign, tweeting, “If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow