The British hospital that plans to remove 11-month-old Charlie Gard from life support declined an offer from a Vatican-owned pediatric hospital to treat the terminally ill infant on Wednesday, citing legal barriers. A day earlier, the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital offered to accept Charlie into their care, promising to keep the infant on life support and allow his parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, to make decisions regarding their son’s treatment.
Charlie was born in August with a rare genetic condition known as mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS), which causes brain damage and loss of muscle function. He has been treated in the intensive care unit at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London since October, and remains unable to eat or breathe on his own. Doctors at the hospital claim to have exhausted all measures to save the infant’s life, and have recommended that he be removed from life support. Despite these claims, Charlie’s parents raised around $1.7 million via the crowdfunding website GoFundMe to transfer their son to the U.S. for experimental treatment.
In a lengthy legal battle between the Gard family and the Great Ormond Street Hospital, three separate British courts have affirmed the hospital’s right to remove Charlie from life support. The family lost their final appeal on June 27, when the European Court of Human Rights declined to hear their case. In a press release, the court sided with previous rulings, arguing that “Charlie would suffer significant harm if his present suffering was prolonged without any realistic prospect of improvement,” and that “the experimental therapy would be of no effective benefit.”