By Dave Andrusko
In an absolutely stunning turn of events, Mr. Justice Francis of England’s High Court will hear new evidence Monday in the case of Charlie Gard, the 11-month-old boy whom London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital [GOSH] has insisted is better off dead. There had been numerous signals that GOSH would remove Charlie’s life support today.
The hospital issued a statement that it had “applied to the High Court for a fresh hearing in the case of Charlie Gard in light of claims of new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition.” The statement added, “Great Ormond Street Hospital is therefore giving the High Court the opportunity to objectively assess the claims of fresh evidence.”
The hospital has not changed its position, according to the BBC, that it is in Charlie’s best interest to die, but comes “after seven medical experts suggested unpublished data showed therapy could improve the 11-month-old’s brain condition.”
In a hugely self-serving statement, a spokesman for the hospital said
“Two international hospitals and their researchers have communicated to us as late as the last 24 hours that they have fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment.
“We believe, in common with Charlie’s parents, it is right to explore this evidence.
“Great Ormond Street Hospital is giving the High Court the opportunity to objectively assess the claims of fresh evidence.
“It will be for the High Court to make its judgment on the facts.
“Our view has not changed. We believe it is right to seek the High Court’s view in light of the claimed new evidence.”
This is unambiguously good news. Every day the death sentence is held in abeyance is another day the family is together and fresh pressure can brought to bear.
There are several caveats. Mr. Justice Francis was the justice who concluded, “It is lawful, and in Charlie’s best interests not to undergo nucleoside therapy [the experimental therapy], provided always that the measures and treatments adopted are the most compatible with maintaining Charlie’s dignity.”
Second, the hospital portrays itself almost as an unwilling accomplice and in no position to allow Charlie’s parents to take him to the United States where two hospitals have already agreed to treat Charlie: “Great Ormond Street Hospital is bound by the ruling of the High Court which expressly forbids us from transferring Charlie for nucleoside therapy anywhere.”
Of course, the courts were merely ratifying the position taken by GOSH– that the experimental “treatment would be unjustified.” Not only that, “it would be futile and would prolong Charlie’s suffering.”
Third we don’t know who will be presenting the “fresh evidence.” Will it only be GOSH whose own statements insist they have already tried everything and are super-dubious of nucleoside therapy? Will one of the outside experts be allowed to testify? The parents’ attorney? New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, one of the two US medical centers who have volunteered to treat Charlie?
Worth noting is that the second sentence of GOSH’s statement reads, “We have just met with Charlie’s parents to inform them of this decision and will continue to keep them fully appraised of the situation.” The parents have bitterly protested that they have not been kept informed or been allowed to participate.