Charlie Gard case set to return to courts

The agonising battle over the future of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard is going back to the courts.
The case could be returning to the courts.The case could be returning to the courts.
The case could be returning to the courts.

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has applied to the High Court for a fresh hearing “in light of claims of new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition”.

Charlie’s parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard, both in their 30s and from Bedfont, west London, want to take him to a hospital in the US but lost a lengthy legal battle after judges ruled in favour of doctors at GOSH, who argued the treatment would not improve the 11-month-old’s quality of life.

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Charlie’s case will be heard by Mr Justice Francis on Monday at 2pm, according to a High Court listing.

Leaving Great Ormond Street on Friday evening, Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, told Sky News: “We’re hopeful and confident that Charlie may get a chance now.”

Charlie inherited the faulty RRM2B gene from his parents, affecting the cells responsible for energy production and respiration and leaving him unable to move or breathe without a ventilator. The therapy is not a cure.

GOSH describes experimental nucleoside therapies as “unjustified” but its decision comes after two international hospitals and their researchers contacted them “as late as the last 24 hours” to say they have “fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment”.

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Under a High Court ruling, GOSH is forbidden from allowing Charlie to be transferred for nucleoside therapy anywhere.

GOSH also point out that the ruling calls for Charlie’s artificial ventilation to be withdrawn and he should receive palliative care only.

Researchers at the Vatican children’s hospital asked Charlie’s doctors to reconsider allowing an experimental treatment to be used, citing “new information”.

Clinicians from the Bambino Gesu paediatric hospital’s neurosciences department said tests in mice and patients with a similar, but not the same, genetic condition had shown “dramatic clinical improvements”.

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Ms Yates has said her son was “not in pain or suffering” and she had been given hope by international attempts to come to Charlie’s aid, including from the Pope and President Donald Trump.

GOSH said it will now be for the High Court to make its judgment on the facts and it is acting in Charlie’s best interests.

They describe his condition as exceptionally rare, with catastrophic and irreversible brain damage.

GOSH said on Friday: “Our doctors have explored every medical treatment, including experimental nucleoside therapies.

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“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.

“This is not an issue about money or resources, but absolutely about what is right for Charlie.

“Our view has not changed.

“We believe it is right to seek the High Court’s view in light of the claimed new evidence.”

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Successive legal attempts by Charlie’s parents failed as judges in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London ruled in favour of GOSH doctors, while the European Court of Human Rights declined to hear the couple’s appeal.

Ms Yates said five doctors, including two in England, thought the experimental treatment could help her son and 18 patients were being treated with the medication.

A US hospital, which cannot be named for legal reasons, has offered to ship the drug to the UK to help Charlie, and Ms Yates said this had been offered as early as last December.

In his April ruling, Mr Justice Francis said the couple had, understandably, grasped at the possibility that the therapy might be ‘’pioneering treatment’’.

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But he said it had never been tried on a patient with Charlie’s rare form of mitochondrial disease, there was “no evidence” it could help him, and testing it on him would be “unknown territory”.

Ms Yates said she had researched Charlie’s rare mitochondrial condition “non-stop” and been told there was a chance it could help Charlie, although GOSH medics argued it would not.

Charlie’s parents met doctors at GOSH after they sent a letter outlining what Ms Yates said was “new information” on the nucleoside treatment they are seeking for their son.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain earlier, she said: “I’ve heard from doctors that there’s around a 10% chance of this working for Charlie so I think that’s a good enough chance to take.

“It’s in his best interests to have a chance at life.”