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10-Month-Old Charlie Gard to Be Taken Off Life-Support With Parents' Defeat in Court

A photo of the judges of the European Court of Human Rights sitting in the courtroom during a hearing.
A photo of the judges of the European Court of Human Rights sitting in the courtroom during a hearing. |

The European Court of Human Rights reached a decision on Tuesday, June 27, that the life support of a baby suffering from a rare genetic disorder can be withdrawn by a hospital.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates welcomed to the world their son, Charlie Gard, back in August 2016. However, it was found that their child was suffering from a rare genetic disease referred to as mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. His medical condition is a genetic mutation that causes weakened muscles and organ dysfunction among many other health problems. His likelihood of survival is slim.

Charlie has been staying in the intensive care unit of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London and is on life support since October 2016. While his parents want him to stay on life support, his doctors do not agree.

Charlie's parents also wanted the hospital to turn over custody of their child back to them so that they can bring him to the U.S. and undergo an experimental treatment that could help extend his life. However, the hospital declined this proposal because they believe that the suggested treatment may not be in the best interest of the infant's health condition.

Since there is a disagreement over the infant's medical care between the patient's guardians and the doctor attending to his condition, the final decision on what would be the best course of action for the child could be left up to the courts, according to the British Medical Association.

Charlie's parents appealed to the U.K. Supreme Court but that appeal was denied, and so they decided to take the case up to the European Court of Human Rights, which is an international court located in Strasbourg, France.

While the European Court initially granted a three-week extension to keep the infant's life support on until July 10, that extension was revoked when the decision of the court arrived on Tuesday.

"The domestic courts concluded that it would be lawful for the hospital to withdraw life sustaining treatment because it was likely that Charlie would suffer significant harm if his present suffering was prolonged without any realistic prospect of improvement, and the experimental therapy would be of no effective benefit," a press release from the court that announced the ruling said, according to CNN.

Charlie's life support will be withdrawn by the hospital on Friday, June 30.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, June 29, the baby's parents revealed that they were cherishing the "last precious hours" they have left with their son.

"We're not allowed to choose if our son lives and we're not allowed to choose when or where Charlie dies," they wrote on Facebook.

The post adds, "We and most importantly Charlie have been massively let down throughout this whole process. Charlie will die tomorrow knowing that he was loved by thousands ... thank you to everyone for all your support."

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