LONDON, England, August 1, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Charlie Gard’s parents registered his death on Monday.
Charlie Gard, a much-loved infant who died after staff at the Great Ormond Street Hospital turned off his life support, was 11 months old. His grieving mother, Connie, said, “We should be planning Charlie’s first birthday, but instead we’re planning his funeral.”
Charlie will be buried with his stuffed toy monkeys. Over the course of his parents’ legal fight to keep him alive, the monkeys became a symbol for Charlie, a reminder that the fate of a real baby was at stake.
Charlie was born in London, England, on August 4, 2016, to Chris Gard and Connie Yates. At first, he seemed to be developing normally, but when in October he failed to put on weight, his parents took him to a doctor and then to the Great Ormond Street children’s hospital. As Charlie was having trouble breathing, he was put on a ventilator. In November, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called mitochondrial DNA depletion system.
Initially, the hospital tried to treat Charlie, but after he had seizures in January, staff at the Great Ormond Street Hospital decided he was so brain damaged that experimental treatment would be futile. They advised Charlie’s parents that it was now in his “best interests” to “die with dignity.” Charlie’s parents disagreed and, having raised private funds, said they wished to take the boy to the United States for experimental treatment. In February, the Great Ormond Street Hospital applied to the courts to stop them.
In April, the UK courts decided that it was in Charlie’s “best interests” for the Great Ormond Street Hospital to remove his ventilator and allow him to die. In May, an appeal failed to overturn this ruling. In June, the European Court of Human Rights, to whom the parents applied for help, decided not to overrule the UK court’s decision.
The case took a new turn, however, when Pope Francis and Donald Trump spoke in support of Charlie and his parents’ wish to try experimental treatment. The Vatican-owned hospital Bambino Gesù offered to admit Charlie. In addition, New York physician Michio Hirano, a specialist in mitochondrial diseases, wrote a letter to Charlie’s parents saying that new research suggested Charlie’s condition could improve.
The case returned to the courts, but after examining Charlie in person, Hirano judged that Charlie’s condition was untreatable. On July 24, Charlie’s parents withdrew their opposition to the hospital’s wish to remove the child’s life support. In a last blow against Charlie’s parents wishes, the courts decided that Charlie could not die at home but must end his life in a hospice. The child’s ventilator was removed on July 27 and he died within hours.
The case seemed to pit the wishes of the state-financed medical system of the United Kingdom against the rights of British parents to protect the lives of their children. The Great Ormond Street Hospital poured scorn on Charlies’ mum and dad, saying “Charlie’s parents fundamentally believe that they alone have the right to decide what treatment Charlie has and does not have. They do not believe that Great Ormond Street should have had the right to apply to the Court for an independent, objective decision to be made. They do not believe that there is any role for a judge or a court. They believe that only they can and should speak for Charlie and they have said many times that they feel they have been stripped of their rights as parents.”
Charlie’s government appointed “guardian” was pro-euthanasia activist Victoria Butler-Cole.