A Timeline of Charlie Gard's Parents' Battle to Save Their Terminally Ill Son
Charlie Gard was born on August 4, 2016 to parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates of west London.
In September, he was taken to the hospital after he began to lose weight. While at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, he was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage.
Charlie’s condition worsened and he was unable to move his limbs or eat or breathe without assistance. He was eventually put on life support.
Yates set up a crowdfunding page in January 2017 after she found an American doctor willing to offer her son a trial therapy. However, GOSH believed that Charlie would only suffer more and should be able to “die with dignity.”
On March 3, Judge Justice Francis started to analyze the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London. During the course of the hearing, the court heard from the parents and the U.S. doctor who had offered the trial therapy.
On April 11, Judge Frances ruled that GOSH doctors could stop providing life support treatment. Francis described how he made the decision with the "heaviest of hearts" but with "complete conviction" it was in Charlie's best interests.
The parents vowed to appeal the decision.
On May 25, three judges at the Court of Appeal dismissed the couple’s appeal, upholding the High Court’s ruling that Charlie’s life support treatment should end.
On June 8, three Supreme Court justices dismissed a further challenge by the determined parents. Outside the court, Charlie's mother said: "How can they do this to us? They are lying. Why don't they tell the truth?"
On June 20, judges in the European Court of Human Rights started to analyze the case after lawyers representing Charlie’s parents provide written submissions. On June 27, the ECHR refused to intervene in the case.
Charlie’s case began to pick up international attention by early July, with both the Pope and President Donald Trump offering support to Charlie’s parents. Supporters gathered in protest against the High Court’s decision.
On July 7, GOSH applied to the High Court for a fresh hearing in light of claims of new evidence related to potential treatment for Charlie’s condition. Charlie’s parents are given time to gather the new evidence for analysis by the court.
On July 17, Michio Hirano, a neurology professor at Columbia University Medical Center, traveled to London to evaluate Charlie. After viewing his latest scans, Hirano determined it was too late to give him nucleoside therapy.
Once it was established that there was no medical chance for improvement, the parents accepted legal advice to withdraw legal proceedings.
On July 24, Charlie’s parents officially withdrew their application to take their son to the U.S. for treatment, ending their legal battle.
Outside the courtroom, Charlie’s father, Chris, said: “We will have to live with the ‘what-ifs,’ which will haunt us for the rest of our lives. Despite the way our beautiful son has been spoken about sometimes — as if he is not worthy at a chance at life — our son is an absolute warrior and we could not be prouder of him and we will miss him terribly.”
“To Charlie, we say, Mommy and Daddy love you so much. We always have and we always will, and we are so sorry we couldn’t save you,” he continued. “Sweet dreams, baby. Sleep tight our beautiful little boy. We love you.”