Judge sets deadline for doctors, parents of Charlie Gard to agree on end-of-life plan

CHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) — Britain’s High Court has given Charlie Gard’s family until noon Thursday to agree with Great Ormond Street Hospital on how the terminally ill infant should be cared for before his death.

Both Charlie’s parents and his physicians at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London agreed in court Wednesday that the 11-month-old baby should spend his last days in a hospice, rather than die at home or in the hospital. But they disagreed over the details on how Charlie, whose rare illness has damaged his brain and rendered him unable to breathe on his own, would spend the last hours of his life in the hospice.

Charlie’s parents had hoped to assemble a medical team who could move him from Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he is being treated, to a hospice and supervise the intensive care the child requires so they could spend several days with their son before taking him off life support. But the doctor who had contacted the family offering to help lacked the proper qualifications. The unnamed doctor was a general practitioner with no intensive care experience and no medical team.

If Charlie’s family cannot provide a qualified doctor and team, and reach an agreement with the hospital by Thursday at 12 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET), the judge presiding over the case has ordered that Charlie to be transported to a hospice by the hospital medical team and have his ventilator removed soon after to let him die naturally. The judge ruled that the exact timeline of these events and the location of the hospice remain private by court order.

Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, delivered an emotional statement in court Monday, announcing the reasons behind her and dad Chris Gard’s decision to stop pushing to take their son to the United States for potential experimental treatments to prolong his life. Gard read a similar message outside court.

An assessment in the United Kingdom from an American doctor who specializes in mitochondrial depletion syndrome, the rare disease from which Charlie suffers, said the baby’s condition was past the time when such treatments would have helped.

On Tuesday, Charlie’s family asked the court for permission to let him die at home.

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