The case of 11-month-old Charlie Gard has gripped the entire world. Charlie was born with an incredibly rare type of mitochondrial disease, which means that he is terminally ill.
After a lengthy legal battle from his parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates — who received input from the Pope and President Donald Trump — hospital staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) stayed resolute in their recommendation to let baby Charlie die.
But today, Connie and Chris have made the agonizing decision to drop their legal case to keep their son alive. After test results on Friday showed that Charlie had deteriorated too significantly, he will now be taken off life support.
Speaking at a hearing today, their lawyer Grant Armstrong, told Justice Francis: "Sadly, the window of opportunity no longer exists. The parents have taken an extremely hard decision."
The court heard that Charlie has suffered extensive muscular atrophy, which they say is now "irreversible." Calling the case "worthy of a Greek tragedy," Armstrong then addressed the treatment being tested in the U.S.: "For Charlie, it is too late. The damage has been done. It is no longer in Charlie's best interests to pursue this course of treatment."
He also announced that Connie and Chris will launch a foundation to help other sufferers of the disease.
Justice Francis then said: "I want to pay tribute to Chris and Connie. No parent could have done more. None of us can begin to understand the parents' agony."
Connie Yates, Charlie's mom, then took to the stand to make a statement with her partner Chris. She said: "This is the hardest thing we've ever had to do. Following most recent MRI scans, we've decided to let our son go."
"He is not brain dead," she continued. "A whole lot of time has been wasted. Treatment would have improved his quality of life. There is no evidence of irreversible brain damage. If we'd had access to raw data, we're convinced he would have had treatment."
"His illness has deteriorated to the point of no return, but no organ has failed," she went on. "There is no proof he is in pain or suffering. But the prospect of improvement is now too low. Deterioration in his muscles means there is no way back. The treatment should have been tried. Charlie had a real chance of getting better. This it's what's best for Charlie now. We've always listened to the experts. We'll always know in our hearts we did the best for Charlie. There are no winners here."
"But it's not too late for others," she said. "We owe it to him to not let his life be in vain. We'd like to thank our lawyers. We thank GOSH. We love Charlie very much. Our son is a warrior. His spirit will live on for eternity."
With Chris sobbing quietly behind her, Connie heartbreakingly shared that she would not see her son's first birthday, which would have been August 4.
Our thoughts are with Connie, Chris, and both their families at this difficult time.
This post was written by Emma Dodds. For more, check out our sister site The Debrief.