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High Court rules doctors can withdraw life support

The High Court has ruled that doctors can withdraw life-support from a sick child against his parents wishes.

By Stephanie Otty | Published: 11th April 2017 News Updates

Eight-month-old Charlie Gard suffers from a rare genetic condition.

His parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates were seeking permission to take him to America for treatment.

But a judge has ruled in favour of specialists at Great Ormond Street Hospital who said it was in Charlie's best interest to stop providing life support and instead move him to a palliative care regime.

Court documents read:

"When Chris started his evidence he described himself as “Charlie’s proud father”. I am in no doubt at all that he and Connie are Charlie’s proud parents. The duty with which I am now charged is to decide, according to well laid down legal principles, what is in Charlie’s best interests. Some people may ask why the court has any function in this process; why can the parents not make this decision on their own? The answer is that, although the parents have parental responsibility, overriding control is vested in the court exercising its independent and objective judgment in the child’s best interests. The Great Ormond Street Hospital has made an application and it is my duty to rule on it, given that the parents and the hospital cannot agree on the best way forward.

Charlie’s parents have, sadly but bravely, acknowledged and accepted that the quality of life that Charlie has at present is not worth sustaining, for he can only breathe through a ventilator and, although they believe that he has a sleep/wake cycle, and can recognise them and react to them when they are close, they realise that he cannot go on as he is, lying in bed, unable to move and fed through a tube.

All of Charlie’s treating doctors at GOSH are agreed that Charlie has reached the stage where artificial ventilation should be withdrawn, that he should be given palliative care only and that he should be allowed to die peacefully and with dignity.

It is with the heaviest of hearts, but with complete conviction for Charlie’s best interests, that I find it is in Charlie’s best interests that I accede to these applications and rule that GOSH may lawfully withdraw all treatment save for palliative care to permit Charlie to die with dignity.

I want to thank the team of experts and carers at GOSH, and others who cannot be named, for the extraordinary care that they have provide to this family. Most importantly of all, I want to thank Charlie’s parents for their brave and dignified campaign on his behalf, but more than anything to pay tribute to their absolute dedication to their wonderful boy, from the day that he was born.