The parents of the terminally ill British baby Charlie Gard have given up their legal fight over treatment for their son.
Their lawyer Grant Armstrong told the UK High Court Monday that experts have said that the “window of opportunity no longer exists.”
“For Charlie, it is too late…treatment cannot offer a chance of success,” he told the court.
It has been a heartbreaking legal battle that has captured international attention and drawn offers of support from Donald Trump and the Pope.
Now, the parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard are preparing to return to court for a hearing at which the terminally-ill baby’s future could be decided.
Mr Justice Francis is set to oversee the latest stage of Chris Gard and Connie Yates’s five-month legal fight over treatment at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
The judge is scheduled to analyse what the couple said was fresh evidence at a two-day trial starting at 2pm on Monday.
He said he aimed to make a decision on Tuesday and questioned whether a two-day hearing would be long enough.
Here is everything you need to know about the child, the disease and the entire case.
Who is Charlie Gard?
Charlie is a 10-month old patient in intensive care at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London.
On August 4, 2016, he was born a “perfectly healthy” baby at full term and at a “healthy weight”. After about a month, however, Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, noticed that he was less able to lift his head and support himself than other babies of a similar age.
Doctors discovered he had a rare inherited disease – infantile onset encephalomyopathy mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS).
The condition causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. In October, after he had became lethargic and his breathing shallow, he was transferred to the Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Why was there a legal fight?
Charlie’s parents wanted to take him to see specialists in the USA, who had offered an experimental therapy called nucleoside.
A crowdfunding page was set up in January to help finance the therapy.
But doctors at GOSH concluded that the experimental treatment, which is not designed to be curative, would not improve Charlie’s quality of life.
When parents do not agree about a child’s future treatment, it is standard legal process to ask the courts to make a decision. This is what happened in Charlie’s case.
What were the stages of the legal battle?
March 3: Great Ormond Street bosses asked Mr Justice Francis to rule that life support treatment should stop.
The judge was told that Charlie could only breathe through a ventilator and was fed through a tube.
April 11: Mr Justice Francis said doctors could stop providing life-support treatment after analysing the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London
He concluded that life-support treatment should end and said a move to a palliative care regime would be in Charlie’s best interests.
May 3: Charlie’s parents then asked Court of Appeal judges to consider the case.
June 20: Judges in the European Court of Human Rights started to analyse the case after lawyers representing Charlie’s parents make written submissions.
A European Court of Human Rights spokeswoman said the case would get “priority”. “In light of the exceptional circumstances of this case, the court has already accorded it priority and will treat the application with the utmost urgency,” she added.
June 27: On Tuesday, European court judges refused to intervene. A Great Ormond Street spokeswoman said the European Court decision marked “the end” of a “difficult process”.
She said there would be “no rush” to change Charlie’s care and said there would be “careful planning and discussion”.
July 10: Charlie’s parents return to the High Court and ask Mr Justice Francis to carry out a fresh analysis of the case. Mr Justice Francis gives them less than 48 hours to prove an experimental treatment works.
Why is the case back in court?
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.
GOSH describes experimental nucleoside therapies as “unjustified” and the treatment is not a cure.
The hospital’s decision to go back into the courtroom came after two international healthcare facilities and their researchers contacted them to say they have “fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment”.
What did Charlie’s parents argue?
Richard Gordon QC, who led Charlie’s parents’ legal team, had told Court of Appeal judges that the case raised “very serious legal issues”.
“They wish to exhaust all possible options,” Mr Gordon said in a written outline of Charlie’s parents’ case.
“They don’t want to look back and think ‘what if?’. This court should not stand in the way of their only remaining hope.”
The interest of the Pope and Mr Trump in Charlie’s case has “saved his life so far”, his mother has said.
If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.