By Kathy Ostrowski, Legislative Director, Kansans for Life
Charlie Gard, who suffers from a rare, life-limiting chromosomal condition that weakens his muscles, will turn 9 months on Thursday, in the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) of London.
But the raging battle over treatment options–and whether the government hospital service has sole medical authority over those decisions–is far from over even though a High Court ruling last month defends death for Charlie.
His parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, are devastated that their decision-making rights over Charlie’s care have been crushed. They met today’s deadline to file a legal complaint to prevent Charlie from being taken off life-support. According to Britain’s The Sun, a new legal team has been hired and made the required application.
No time line for court acceptance of the appeal has been announced.
Chris and Connie have been constantly at Chris’s bedside at GOSH since October. As we explained last week, Charlie is believed to be one of only 16 known babies ever to have had this mitochondrial-depletion disease.
His parents are being prevented from taking him to the United States for an innovative treatment called nucleoside bypass therapy. The treatment has not yet been published, according to Connie, but has shown success. It involves administering natural compounds to remedy the mitochondrial depletion syndrome Charlie suffers.
Many thousands of well-wishers on social media have encouraged his parents, and pledged over $1.3 million pounds (roughly $1.7 million dollars) to Charlie’s GoFundMe account to cover expenses for the overseas trip.
Yet on April 11, the U.K. High Court ruled against the parents, holding that GOSH could keep Charlie, shut off his ventilator, and allow the baby to “die with dignity” on the grounds that the proposed U.S. treatment could not “cure” him.
The idea that any court can deny parents the right to remove their son from a hospital seems absurd and unjustifiable. But it’s a logical outgrowth of the reality of rationed care–particularly in Britain with the National Health Service–coupled with changes in medical ethics.
It is sadly no longer the assumption that medical facilities feel bound to sustain a patient’s life. Instead, doctors can delegate treatment as not to be administered because it will
- not cure the underlying disease; and /or
- not produce an “acceptable” quality of life.
Such care is alternatively called “non-beneficial,” “medically inappropriate,” or “futile.” A new law in Kansas, Simon’s Law, requires hospitals to disclose any futility policies upon request.
When the medical elite deem that certain patients should be denied medical care, those who object are considered as throwing a “monkey wrench” in the system. Charlie’s parents’ attorney found an email from a doctor at GOSH who called the parents a ‘spanner in the works’ due to their exploration of all medical options available internationally.
GOSH asserts that further treatment would unnecessarily “prolong” Charlie’s suffering. In an interview on British ITV, Connie said:
“If there is no improvement we will let him go. We just want to give him a chance. Charlie is still strong and stable. He is growing more beautiful by the day.”
Appeal judges will be considering whether Charlie’s parents have a reasonable chance of success before allowing a full appeal hearing to be held. The Mail reported the couple’s new attorneys may be looking at using human rights laws to defend their case.
“Before he was hired, the couple’s new lawyer Charles da Silva wrote on his firm’s Facebook page that the High Court ruling ‘highlights that not only doctors but judges can get it wrong too,” the Daily Mail reported.
The world’s parents are watching. Stay tuned.