BY DANIEL GAITAN | firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlie Gard, the seriously ill British baby at the center of a high-profile legal and ethical battle, died Friday.
Charlie was one week shy of his first birthday.
“Our beautiful little boy has gone, we’re so proud of him,” his mother Connie Yates said in a statement, The Associated Press reports.
Charlie was born with RRM2B encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome — a rare genetic disorder with no cure. Charlie was unable to move, see, hear or breathe on his own. He also suffered severe seizures and faced irreversible brain damage.
Still, Charlie’s parents raised more than $1.7 million help shoulder the costs of transferring him to the U.S. for experimental medical treatments they hoped would prolong his life.
However, Charlie’s doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London strongly opposed the move, partly because the treatments were unlikely to help and could cause unnecessary suffering.
The dispute ended up in British and European courts. On Thursday, the High Court Nicholas Francis ruled that Charlie would spend his final moments in a hospice and would be taken off life support.
Under British law, it is common for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on how to care for a child.
The case made to Britain’s Supreme Court as Charlie’s parents refused to accept decisions by a series of judges who backed Great Ormond Street. In the end, the Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts.
The months-long, controversial case sparked a worldwide ethical debate about end of life issues and parental rights. It also captured the attention of Pope Francis and President Trump.
Great Ormond Street Hospital received permission from the European Court of Human Rights in June to discontinue life support.
Protesters who wanted Charlie to receive experimental treatments rallied outside the courthouse Monday, including some who came from as far as the U.S., The Washington Post reports. The hospital treating him has also received death threats.
“In recent weeks the community has been subjected to a shocking and disgraceful tide of hostility and disturbance,” Great Ormond Street Hospital said in a statement.
“Staff have received abuse both in the street and online. Thousands of abusive messages have been sent to doctors and nurses whose life’s work is to care for sick children.”