The father of terminally ill Charlie Gard has delivered an emotional statement outside court after it was revealed the family has dropped the legal battle to take him the US for experimental treatment.
Gard and his partner Connie Yates said too much time has been wasted in the bid to get Charlie the right care and that they must let the 11-month-old go and “be with the angels”.
The couple say that without life support, Charlie will not live to see his first birthday on 4 August. His case has gained international attention, including from Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Gard wept as he spoke outside court:
“This is one of the hardest things we have ever had to say and we are about to do the hardest thing we have ever had to do, which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go.
“Put simply, this is about a sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy, who was born with a rare disease, who had a real, genuine chance at life and a family who love him so very dearly and that’s why we fought so hard for him.
“We are truly devastated to say that following the most recent MRI scan of Charlie’s muscles as requested in the recent MDT meeting by Dr [Michio] Hirano, as Charlie’s devoted and loving parents we have decided it is no longer in Charlie’s best interests to pursue treatment and we will let our son go and be with the angels.
“The American and the Italian team were still willing to treat Charlie, after seeing his recent brain, MRI and EEG last week but there is one simple reason why treatment can now not go ahead and that is time. A whole lot of time has been wasted. We are now in July and our poor boy has been left to just lie in hospital for months without any treatment while such lengthy court battles have been fought.
“Tragically, having had Charlie’s medical notes reviewed by independent experts, we now know had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy, little boy.
“Despite his condition in January, Charlie’s muscles are in pretty good shape and far from showing irreversible, catastrophic, structural brain damage, Dr Hirano and other experts say his brain scans and EEGs were those of a relatively normal child of his age.
“We knew that ourselves because as his parents we knew our son, which is why we continued fighting. Charlie has been left with his illness to deteriorate devastatingly to the point of no return. This has also never been about ‘parents know best’. All we wanted to do was take Charlie from one world-renowned hospital to another world-renowned hospital in an attempt to save his life and to be treated by the world leader in mitochondrial disease.
“We will have to live with the what ifs for the rest of our lives. Despite the way that our beautiful son has been spoken about sometimes, as if he is not worthy of a chance at life, our son is an absolute warrior and we could not be prouder of him and we will miss him terribly.
“His body, heart and soul will soon be gone, but his spirit will live on for eternity and he will make a difference to people’s lives for years to come. We will make sure of that. We are now going to spend our last precious moments with our son Charlie, who unfortunately won’t make his first birthday in just under two weeks time and we will ask that our privacy is respected at this very difficult time.
“To Charlie, we say mummy and daddy love you so much. We always have and we always will and we are so sorry we couldn’t save you. Sweet dreams baby, sleep tight our beautiful little boy. We love you.”