Charlie Gard: Terminally ill baby probably won't be allowed to spend final days at home, judge says

Mr Justice Francis will make a decision about where 11-month-old will spend his last days on Wednesday

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Tuesday 25 July 2017 21:39

Terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard is unlikely to be able to spend his final days at home with his parents, a High Court judge has said.

Doctors caring for the 11-month-old, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder, said they wanted to fulfil the "last desire" of his parents but there were practical difficulties in providing the intensive care the baby needs outside a hospital.

Mr Justice Francis said he will make a decision about where Charlie will spend his last days on Wednesday but said the chances of him being able to go home were "small".

It comes after Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, both in their 30s from Bedfont, west London, abandoned attempts to persuade the judge to let him travel to America for experimental treatment.

But just hours after dropping their lengthy legal battle, they became embroiled in a dispute with doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), where he is currently being cared for, over the circumstances of his death.

Barrister Grant Armstrong, who leads the couple's legal team, told the judge hospital bosses were placing obstacles in Charlie's parents' way.

"The parents wish for a few days of tranquillity outside of a hospital setting," Mr Armstrong said. "The parents had hoped that Great Ormond Street would work with them."

But GOSH doctors said they believed moving Charlie to a hospice was the best option.

GOSH’s barrister Katie Gollop QC said staff were not creating "obstacles" and that staff had "moved heaven and earth" for Charlie.

"The care plan must be safe, it must spare Charlie all pain and protect his dignity," she said.

"At the same time, the plan must honour his parents' wishes about two matters in particular, namely the time and place of his passing."

She said finalising an end-of-life care plan was the "most delicate and difficult task".

"Charlie's parents want him to be with them and ventilated at home for several days before receiving palliative care," she said. "Above all, Great Ormond Street wants to fulfil that last wish.”

But she said the invasive ventilation that Charlie required was only able to be provided in a hospital setting.

"Those resources cannot be provided by Great Ormond Street to Charlie at his parents' home," she said.

"Great Ormond Street is aware that there are other practical problems, one being that the ventilator does not fit through the front door.”

She added: "It is in Charlie's best interests, and everybody's, that the risk of a precipitate, distressing or disordered death is removed, so that he may be reassured of a peaceful and dignified passing."

Ms Gollop said Great Ormond Street had found an "excellent hospice" which would give Charlie and his parents the space, privacy and protection they needed.

Mr Justice Francis said he would give Charlie's parents another day to offer a solution which would allow Charlie to receive life-support treatment at home for days.

"It looks like the chances are small," he said. "But given the gravity of the situation we are in and the need to be human, I will allow another day.

"I will make a final decision tomorrow."

Additional reporting by PA

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