UK court rehears Charlie Gard case in light of new evidence
LONDON (AP) — A British court on Monday gave the parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard a chance to present fresh evidence that their terminally ill son should receive experimental treatment.
Judge Nicholas Francis gave the couple until Wednesday afternoon to present the evidence and set a new hearing for Thursday.
The decision came after an emotionally charged hearing in which Gard’s mother wept in frustration and his father yelled at a lawyer.
The re-opening of the case at London’s High Court may allow Charlie to receive the therapy treatment at his current hospital or abroad.
Great Ormond Street Hospital, which had intended to turn off the baby’s life support systems, applied for the court hearing because of “new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition.”
The evidence came from researchers at the Vatican’s children’s hospital and another facility outside of Britain.
The application came after both Pope Francis and President Donald Trump fueled international attention to the case, with hospitals in Rome and the U.S. offering to provide Charlie the experimental therapy.
Previous court rulings have said that Charlie couldn’t receive the treatment for his mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease that left him with brain damage and unable to breathe unaided, and that he should be taken off of life support.
British and European courts sided with the hospital’s original stance that the experimental treatment was “unjustified” and might cause Charlie more suffering with no cure.
Francis, the judge, insisted there had to be “new and powerful” evidence to reverse earlier rulings barring Charlie from traveling abroad for treatment.
“There is not a person alive who would not want to save Charlie,” Francis said. “If there is new evidence I will hear it.”
But he rejected an attempt by the child’s parents to have another judge hear the case.
“I did my job,” he said. “I will continue to do my job.”
Charlie’s parents were overcome with emotion during the hearing. At one point, the baby’s father, Chris Gard ,yelled at a barrister representing the hospital: “When are you going to start telling the truth?”
The baby’s mother, Connie Yates, added: “It’s really difficult.”
A petition supporting Charlie’s right to treatment has garnered around 350,000 signatures and more than 1.3 million pounds ($1.7 million) have been raised online for his case.
Connie Yates told Sky News that she wanted judges to listen to experts on his condition who say the treatment might help.
She said that seven specialists from around the world have voiced their support and told her that the treatment has an “up to 10 percent chance of working.”
“I hope they can see there is more of a chance than previously thought and hope they trust us as parents and trust the other doctors,” she said.