Charlie Gard’s parents lose battle over four-hour brain scan

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Jul 20, 2017
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The High Court ruled against the desire of Connie Yates and Chris Gard to limit any scan to no more than 30 minutes

Andy Rain/EPA

The terminally ill baby Charlie Gard has been granted permanent resident status in the US along with his parents so that he could be given the medical treatment that they want him to receive there.

However, unless the British courts decide to lift the order that currently bars the removal of the 11-month old baby to the US for treatment, the residency status will have no effect. 

The decision by the US Congress to pass the amendment was made as the baby’s parents lost their latest fight over his treatment. Chris Gard and Connie Yates and doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London had been in disagreement over a brain scan carried out on the 11-month-old before a gathering of specialists this week. The couple said that an electroencephalogram (EEG) should be carried out for no longer than 30 minutes. However, specialists at Great Ormond Street, where Charlie is being cared for, said a scan would have to be carried out for at least four hours to generate useful data.

Mr Justice Francis ruled in favour of the hospital’s doctors, saying the scan should “be of such duration” as treating clinicians “may advise”. The judge considered competing written arguments on Saturday before the meeting of clinical experts at Great Ormond Street on Monday and Tuesday.

No details have emerged of that meeting, attended by the American specialist, Michio Hirano, who had argued that experimental treatment in New York might lead to a 10 per cent improvement in Charlie’s condition. Nonetheless, it is understood that the position of the Great Ormond Street medical team treating Charlie remains unchanged. They argue that the proposed therapy is experimental and will not help. They further argue that in the best interests of the baby, who they say cannot breath unaided, see, hear, move or cry, life support treatment should stop.

Dr Hirano has now examined Charlie and discussed his case while visiting Great Ormond Street on Monday and Tuesday. His views will be reported back to Mr Justice Francis in the next few days.

The parents have already lost battles in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in London. They have also failed to persuade judges at the European Court of Human Rights to intervene.

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