A judge in Britain's High Court has ruled that doctors can remove the life support from a baby suffering from muscle disorder against the parents' wishes.
Chris Gard and Connie Yates were heartbroken after Justice Francis ruled on Monday that their baby, Charlie Gard, should be allowed to die.
The baby, born on Aug. 4, is suffering from a disorder called mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness.
Francis stated that it was in the best interests of the eight-month-old baby to remove life support, noting that he made the decision with "the heaviest of hearts."
"Great Ormond Street Hospital may lawfully withdraw all treatment save for palliative care to permit Charlie to die with dignity," Francis said.
The judge's ruling prompted Gard to shout "no" in court before both he and Yates broke down in tears.
According to the Daily Mail, the judge ignored the wishes of the parents to transport the little boy to the U.S. for treatment.
Specialists at Great Ormond Sreet Hospital decided that the baby should be moved to palliative care because it has irreversible brain damage.
The parents begged the High Court to allow the baby to undergo an experimental treatment in the U.S., but the judge ruled that it would not be in Charlie's interest because it would not reverse the brain damage, and it could cause him pain.
Gard and Yates have vowed to fight the ruling, and they have up to three weeks to ask for permission to appeal. Their lawyers need to present fresh evidence or a new challenge to the law before a permission for the appeal could be granted. The hospital said that the life support for Charlie would continue until a decision is made.
The couple has received more than £1.2 million from about 82,000 well-wishers to fund the experimental treatment. However, their hopes were dealt a crushing blow after the judge cited experts who said that the baby's condition is "very unlikely" to improve, regardless of whether the parents could afford the treatment.
Francis, who had visited Charlie in the hospital while hearing evidence in the case, said that he sympathized with Gard and Yates and commended them for their courage and dedication.
"I want to thank Charlie's parents for their brave and dignified campaign on his behalf. But more than anything to pay tribute to their absolute dedication to their wonderful boy, from the day that he was born," he said.
Donations from supporters continued to pour into the couple's GoFundMe page despite the ruling. The money would be used to fund the treatment if the appeal is successful. If not, Yates suggested that a charity could be created for other children with similar disorders and fund further research.