A young British couple whose infant son is severely ill and on life support in a London hospital barged out of a court hearing on Thursday after a line of questioning upset them. Connie Yates and Chris Gard arrived at Britain’s High Court on Thursday with renewed hopes. They have been locked in a legal battle for months in which they have been trying to secure permission to take their 11-month-old son Charlie out of Great Ormond Street Hospital to seek medical treatment elsewhere for the rare condition with which he is afflicted.
Charlie was born with mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease that has left him brain damaged. He’s unable to breathe without assistance from a ventilator. Hospital officials have prevented Yates and Gard from taking him elsewhere for treatment, insisting that the baby is doomed, that any attempt to treat him further could cause him more pain and that he should be allowed to die with dignity. Yates and Gard have mounted a spirited legal battle in an effort to do everything to preserve their son’s life, but have been shot down at every turn by the U.K. legal system. Their story has drawn worldwide attention and President Donald Trump and Pope Francis have publicly offered to help — all of which has been to no avail since the baby’s parents are legally blocked from taking up those offers.
At Thursday’s hearing, an American doctor was testifying that if the boy were brought to the U.S., there is a chance an experimental treatment being performed there could help him. “We have a much better understanding of the data,” the doctor, whose identity has been withheld, testified. He said new information has emerged in the months since the court first rejected the parents’ bid to bring Charlie to the U.S.
The treatment, known as nucleoside therapy, would not be a cure, the doctor cautioned, but the physician speculated that it could lead to a 10 percent improvement in Charlie’s ability to use his muscles. As for the chances that Charlie’s brain function could be restored to any degree, the doctor did not provide an assessment.
During the proceedings, tensions erupted when the judge was reading previous statements made by the couple, which they perceived to be a misrepresentation of what they’d said. “We said he’s not suffering and not in pain,” Yates shouted at the judge. “If he was we wouldn’t be up here fighting!” Her husband then slammed down the cup of water he was holding and the couple stormed out. They returned to the packed courtroom later and the judge acknowledged the enormous stress they were under. Meanwhile, the hospital remained steadfast in its defense of its position to not release Charlie.
Outside the courthouse, news footage showed, supporters who carried signs and screamed, “Save Charlie Gard!” A representative for the family read a statement in front of reporters and TV cameras. The substance of the remarks was so emotional, the man was overcome and nearly broke down. Watch in the video below.
Read the full story at The Associated Press.