(CNSNews.com) – The parents of British baby Charlie Gard said Monday the time wasted in their long legal battle to secure treatment for him in the U.S. has made it too late for their son, leading to their agonizing decision to stop fighting and allow him to “go and be with the angels.”
“Had Charlie been given the treatment sooner he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy,” his father, Chris Gard, said outside the High Court in London, with Charlie’s mother Connie Yates at his side.
“As Charlie's devoted and loving parents we have decided that it's no longer in Charlie’s best interests to pursue treatment and we will let our son go and be with the angels,” he said.
Gard noted that American and Italian physicians had been willing to give Charlie trial nucleoside treatment even after reviewing his MRI and EEG brain scans taken last week.
“But there is one simple reason why treatment cannot now go ahead – and that is time. A whole lot of time has been wasted,” he said.
“We’re now in July and our poor boy has been left to just lie in hospital for months without any treatment whilst lengthy court battles have been fought.
“Tragically, having had Charlie’s medical notes reviewed by independent experts we now know that, had Charlie been given the treatment sooner he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy.”
Born last August, Charlie Gard was diagnosed a month later with a rare genetic condition and has been on life support at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.
In April a High Court judge ruled in favor of the hospital’s request to end life support, a move the hospital and judge agreed would be in the baby’s best interests.
His parents fought the case to the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights, without success.
With support coming from around the world – including from Pope Francis and President Trump – Charlie’s parents fought to allow them to take him to the U.S. for experimental treatment, while raising more than $1.7 million via a crowdfunding website to pay for the treatment.
In Washington, pro-life lawmakers introduced legislation aimed to give Charlie and his parents U.S. residency to facilitate the effort.
The case returned to the High Court this month, with the judge reviewing evidence about the proposed treatment. But on Monday the anguished couple announced their decision.
Gard described Charlie as a “warrior.”
“His body, heart and soul may soon be gone, but his spirit will live on for eternity and he will make a difference to people’s lives for years to come,” he said. “We will make sure of that.”
Gard finished the statement in tears.
“To Charlie, we say, Mummy and Daddy love you so much. We always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn't save you,” he said. “Sweet dreams baby. Sleep tight our beautiful little boy.”
Among those providing support and legal counsel for Charlie’s parents, and present in court Monday when the decision was announced, was Catherine Glenn Foster, CEO and president of Americans United for Life.
“Charlie Gard’s parents were forced to make a heartbreaking decision today – to end the courageous fight for Charlie’s life,” she said.
“This decision was not made lightly. After over 8 months of exhaustively battling for the right to care for their son, Chris Gard and Connie Yates made a brave choice to do what was best for their little Charlie and end the legal fight to seek cutting-edge treatment,” Foster said.
“It became clear after new tests performed last week that over the last months without this treatment, Charlie's muscles had atrophied too far for it to have a chance to be effective,” she said.
Foster noted that, as Yates told the court, “we must remember that if Charlie had been allowed to receive treatment back in November 2016, when his parents originally requested it, there would have been a good chance that Charlie could have substantially recovered and lived a full and complete life.”
“Instead, the hospital and the courts denied Charlie and his parents that chance, leaving their hands tied and a gut-wrenching decision to be made today,” Foster added.
In her remarks to the court, Yates pledged to help support other parents in their situation.
While it was too late to save Charlie, she said, “it’s not too late for others with this horrible disease and other diseases. We will continue to help and support families of ill children and try and make Charlie live on in the lives of others. We owe it to him to not let his life be in vain.”