Judge sets deadline for moving Charlie Gard to hospice
London — The parents of critically ill infant Charlie Gard conceded Wednesday that he will die in a hospice and not at home as they had previously wished.
Connie Yates, the mother of the baby at the center of an international medical and legal battle, returned to London’s High Court for a hearing where a judge was expected to rule on where Charlie would spend the last days of his life.
A judge said Charlie will be transferred to a hospice to die unless his family and the hospital treating him agree on an end-of-life plan by noon on Thursday.
Judge Nicholas Francis says “it is in Charlie’s best interests to be moved to a hospice and for him at that point to be moved to a palliative care regime only.”
Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, left a courtroom in distress before the judge made his ruling.
The 11-month-old’s parents have been fighting for him to be brought home to die, but conceded Wednesday that that is not practical and a hospice is the only option.
Instead, Yates requested a medical team of her choosing that would work to keep her son alive for a week under hospice care rather than the few hours he was expected to survive once his ventilator was removed.
The request indicated that the parents have backed away from their earlier expressed wish to take Charlie home for “a few days of tranquility” before his ventilator was disconnected and he was allowed to “slip away.”
Great Ormond Street Hospital said it was not practical to provide life-support treatment for days at the couple’s home. Nurses from the hospital have nonetheless volunteered to care for him in his final hours.
The discussions marked the final stages of a legal and medical case that has continued for months.
After dozens of court proceedings, Gard’s parents on Monday withdrew their attempt to force a hospital to let them take their son to the United States for experimental treatment. The case then evolved into whether they would be allowed to take him home to die.
The parents’ cause caught the attention of President Donald Trump and Pope Francis and also garnered widespread grassroots support. U.S.-based activists have flown to London to support Charlie’s parents.
Judge Nicholas Francis, who has presided over the case, has said the sensitive issues cried out “for mediation” — not for the ruling of a judge. But so far attempts to find agreement have failed.
The case has become the catalyst for discussions on health care funding, medical intervention, the role of the state and the rights of the child.
The heated commentary has prompted the judge to criticize the effects of social media and those “who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions.”
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