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Charlie Gard, the Baby at Center of Legal Dispute, Has Died

Charlie Gard, a the 11-month-old who spurred a debate about parents’ rights over end-of-life care, died Friday morning.
Image: Baby Charlie Gard with his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard.
Baby Charlie Gard with his parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard.Go Fund Me

Charlie Gard, the 11-month-old who spurred a debate about parents’ rights over end-of-life care, died Friday morning, his family confirmed.

Charlie had a rare inherited mitochondrial disease and was not able to move his arms and legs. Considered terminally ill, he also could not breathe unaided, see or hear.

The disagreement between Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, and London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital over his treatment resulted in a high-profile, months-long ethics battle.

"Everyone at Great Ormond Street Hospital sends their heartfelt condolences to Charlie's parents and loved-ones at this very sad time," the hospital said in a statement on Friday.

The case captured the attention of world leaders, with Pope Francis and President Donald Trump both commenting publicly on the matter.

After receiving news of Charlie's death, Vice President Mike Pence said he and his wife were praying for the infant's parents.

Pope Francis added his thoughts on Twitter later in the day.

"I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him," the Catholic leader tweeted.

Charlie’s parents argued on behalf of their son and raised $1.8 million to bring him to the U.S. for experimental therapy.

The New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irving Medical Center said it would be willing to admit and administer the experimental treatment. The hospital also offered to send the drug to the London hospital.

Bambino Gesu Children's Hospital in the Vatican also offered to treat Charlie.

Two Republican congressmen, Trent Franks of Arizona and Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, went so far as to introduce a bill in the House of Representatives earlier this month that would have granted permanent residence in the United States to Charlie and his parents.

“Our bill will support Charlie’s parents’ right to choose what is best for their son, by making Charlie a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. in order for him to receive treatments that could save his life,” the congressmen said in a joint statement at the time.

But three British courts ruled that further treatment of Charlie’s disease would cause the infant “significant harm.”

The rulings were endorsed by the European Court of Human Rights.

Great Ormond Street Hospital said it is standard procedure for the courts to make the decision over a child's treatment when parents and the hospital disagree.

According to a White House official, members of the Trump administration had spoken to the parents via calls facilitated by the British government.

"If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so," President Trump tweeted in early July.

This past Monday, Charlie’s parents gave up on possibly moving to the U.S. move after new tests concluded that it wouldn’t help his condition. Charlie's mother had previously said the money they raised would be given to support children with similar genetic disorders if it could not be used for his treatment.

Courts had previously ruled he should be moved to palliative care, which would keep him comfortable until he died.

Charlie’s parents had argued that they wanted to take him home to die, but the British High Court ruled on Thursday that the infant would be moved to a hospice where he would be taken off life support.

“Sadly, as the judge has now ruled, there is simply no way that Charlie, a patient with such severe and complex needs, can spend any significant time outside of an intensive care environment safely,” the Great Ormond Street Hospital said in a statement on Thursday. “The risk of an unplanned and chaotic end to Charlie’s life is an unthinkable outcome for all concerned and would rob his parents of precious last moments with him.”

With the controversy growing to a boil in past weeks, the hospital said that its staff has been harassed and even received death threats due to the high-profile case.

Charlie died a week before his August 4 birthday.