The parents of terminally ill baby Charlie Gard have accused the London hospital treating him of placing obstacles in the way of their son dying at home, but the hospital says Charlie’s life support can only be provided in a “specialised” setting.
The plight of 11-month-old Charlie, who suffers from an extremely rare genetic condition causing progressive brain damage and muscle weakness, has been at the centre of a bitter dispute between his parents and Great Ormond Street Hospital.
On Tuesday, the parents’ lawyer, Grant Armstrong, said the hospital was placing obstacles in the way of their final wish to take their son home.
“We struggle with the difficulties the hospital is placing in the way of the parents having a … short period of time before the final act in Charlie’s short life,” Mr Armstrong told the court.
Charlie Gard’s parents had sought to send him to the US to undergo experimental therapy. (GoFundMe: Charlies Fight)
But Katie Gollop, the lawyer representing the hospital, said Great Ormond Street would fulfil the wishes of Charlie’s parents “if practical” and that his life support could not be provided at home.
“The care plan must be safe, it must spare Charlie all pain and it must protect his dignity,” the hospital’s lawyers wrote in a document presented to the court.
“At the same time, the plan must honour his parents’ wishes about two matters in particular, namely the time and place of his passing.”
The document said the invasive ventilation Charlie required was only provided in a hospital setting.
Among other practical problems, it said, the ventilator would not fit through the front door of Charlie’s home.
“Charlie is a child who requires highly specialised treatment. His care cannot be simplified. It must be provided in a specialist setting by specialists,” the document said.
The tragic case has elicited sympathy from far and wide, with US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis among those who have weighed in with views.
On Monday, Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, abandoned their legal battle to prolong the life of their son, whom they had wanted to take to the United States to undergo an experimental treatment never before tried on anyone with his condition.
But doctors at Great Ormond Street believed the treatment had no realistic chance of helping Charlie and would only prolong his suffering.
Both parties were back at the London High Court on Tuesday, this time for a hearing on arrangements for Charlie’s life support to be switched off.