British court opens new hearing in Baby Charlie case

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A British court on Monday held a preliminary hearing to consider possible new evidence in the case of a sick 11-month-old baby whose parents planned to take to U.S. for experimental treatment.

London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for children asked the High Court to re-examine the case of Charlie Gard “in light of claims of new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition.”

The infant, widely known as Baby Charlie, suffers from a rare genetic condition that causes progressive muscle weakness and has left him with brain damage and unable to breathe without a ventilator.

The presiding judge said that he would examine the new evidence in full on Thursday and may be able to give a ruling by then.

 

 

In an open letter earlier Monday, Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said “interventions by external agencies or individuals, no matter how well-intended, are unhelpful.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and Pope Francis both offered to help the family last week, while U.S. hospitals said that they might be able to help the child.

“Charlie’s situation is heartbreaking for his parents, and difficult for everyone involved, including the doctors and nurses looking after him.

“Unfortunately, situations such as this, that involve withdrawing life-sustaining treatment are not uncommon and fall within the responsibilities of many paediatricians,” Modi said.

 

 

The hospital gave no details of the new medical information, but British media and the infant’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have highlighted treatment at several U.S. hospitals.

Gard and Yates presented “an urgent request to the Great Ormond Street Hospital to save Charlie’s life” on Sunday.

The request, signed by nearly 400,000 people online, urges doctors to allow them to take their son to the U.S. for experimental treatment.

Speaking to the BBC before Monday’s hearing, Yates said the couple had endured a “living hell” over recent months, saying “it’s horrible that this decision has been taken out of our hands.

She said that the parents believed that new evidence had suggested a 10 per cent chance of medical treatment helping Charlie, after previous evidence had rated the prospect of any treatment helping him at almost zero.

Specialists at the hospital had decided that an experimental therapy proposed by US doctors would not help, and that life support for the child should be stopped.

British and European courts upheld rulings that the infant’s life support should be ended to let him die with dignity.

However, on Friday, Great Ormond Street had said that two unidentified international hospitals had “communicated to us that they have fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment.”

The hospital said its doctors’ view of what is best for Charlie “has not changed.”

The parents had earlier appealed to the government to intervene in the case, but Prime Minister Theresa May declined to do so.

May told the parliament last week that she was confident that the hospital would “consider any offers or new information that has come forward with consideration of the well-being of a desperately ill child.” (dpa/NAN)

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