London, England, Jul 28, 2017 / 11:51 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A spokesperson for the parents of terminally ill British infant Charlie Gard has reported that their “beautiful little boy” has died.
He had been taken into hospice care on July 27, a day before the announcement of his death. In a statement, his mother said: “Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie.”
Gard, 11 months old, and his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, had been at the center of a months-long legal debate regarding parental rights and human life. They had been denied the chance to take him to the U.S. for experimental treatment as well as their wish to spend a week with him in hospice care at home.
Charlie had been baptized earlier this week. His parents shared a photo of him clutching a medal of St. Jude, patron of hopeless causes.
The case garnered international attention and support, with President Donald Trump and Pope Francis both weighing in via twitter in early July in support of the boy and his parents. The pediatric hospital Bambino Gesù in Rome, known as “the pope’s hospital,” offered to care for the boy.
The parents had raised £1.35 million for treatment.
He suffered from a rare mitochondrial disease which paralyzes muscles and causes brain damage. He was believed to be only one of 16 sufferers in the world.
Born on August 4 of last year, Gard’s condition was discovered in September and he was admitted to the Great Ormund Street Hospital (GOSH) the following month, in October. His life support was recommended to be withdrawn in April, and his parents subsequently took the case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. All courts which reviewed the case upheld the GOSH doctors’ decision.
On July 17, Charlie was examined by US neurologist who claimed an experimental therapy could provide up to a 10 percent of improvement in the child’s condition. This came after unpublished research suggested there was a chance for some reversal in Charlie’s brain damage. The child and his parents were subsequently granted U.S. residency.
However, after new medical reports were revealed in court last week, Yates and Gard conceded that Charlie no longer has a chance for improvement, and on Monday withdrew their legal fight.
Greg Burke, the Holy See press officer, had said July 24 on that “Pope Francis is praying for Charlie and his parents and feels especially close to them at this time of immense suffering. The Holy Father asks that we join in prayer that they may find God’s consolation and love.” Pope Francis again stated his support on his own twitter account after the announcement of the child’s death.
I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) July 28, 2017
The child suffered from permanent brain damage and could not breathe on his own. His mother had expressed hope that he can spend a week in hospice before life support was withdrawn. That wish was not granted, as his parents could not assemble the team of doctors required.