European Court stops London hospital from removing life support of disabled baby

The European Court of Human Rights has blocked a hospital in London from removing the life support of a terminally ill baby | Pixabay/SeppH

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France has ruled that a hospital in London must continue providing treatment to a terminally ill baby whose parents lost their appeal in the U.K. to keep the child in life-support.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates, who want to take their 10-month old son, Charlie Gard, to the U.S. for treatment, has brought a plea to the European Court of Human Rights after losing their appeal at the U.K. Supreme Court on Thursday.

In April, a high court judge ruled against taking Charlie to the U.S. for treatment, saying the child's life-support treatment should end and that he should be allowed to die with dignity.

The Guardian reported that three court of appeal judges upheld the decision in May, and three supreme court justices dismissed the parents' latest challenge on Thursday, following a hearing in London.

The parents are seeking permission to transfer Charlie, who has a rare genetic condition and brain damage, from the Great Ormond Street Hospital to the U.S. where he can undergo therapy. However, specialists at the hospital said that the child's life support treatment should stop, arguing that the nucleoside bypass therapy proposed by a doctor in the U.S. is only experimental and would not help.

In a statement issued in Strasbourg, the European Court of Human Rights said that the hospital must keep the baby on a ventilator and provide the baby with nursing care.

"In the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before it, [the UK] should provide Charlie Gard with such treatment and nursing care as may be appropriate to ensure that he suffers the least distress and retains the greatest dignity consistent, in so far as possible, with maintaining life until midnight on Tuesday 13 June 2017," the Strasbourg court noted.

"The interim measure granted today in the application Gard and Others v the UK ... has been applied temporarily in order to allow the European court to examine the request in a chamber formation of seven judges," it continued.

A spokeswoman for the court stated that the judges have not yet decided whether to hear oral evidence from the lawyers representing Charlie's parents and that they are considering written submissions that have been sent to Strasbourg.

According to the Mirror, a ruling issued by the European Court of Human Rights would be binding on the U.K. government, rather than Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Gard and Yates, who live in Bedfont, west London, have launched a fundraising campaign to help pay for Charlie's treatment in the U.S. The campaign reached a target of £1.2 million (US$ 1.5 million) before the high court trial, and it has now topped £1.3 million (US$ 1.66 million) after more than 83,000 people made donations.