- Hospital says Charlie’s ventilator ‘won’t fit through the door’
- Parents refusing mediation
- Vatican says experimental therapy ‘could have been an opportunity’
The parents of Charlie Gard are embroiled in yet another battle with the hospital treating him – this time over permission to take their son home to die.
Charlie’s mother Connie Yates returned to the High Court on Tuesday to discuss removing him from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and bringing him to the home she shares with his father Chris Gard in south west London.
Their lawyer accuses GOSH of putting obstacles in their way and Mr Justice Francis is expected to rule on where the 11-month-old should have his life support withdrawn.
BBC legal affairs expert Joshua Rosenberg was present at the hearing and reports that GOSH objects to transferring Charlie home citing technical difficulties including that the ventilator he needs “won’t fit through the front door of the property to which Charlie’s parents want to take him.”
The couple’s barrister Grant Armstrong countered by asking why a portable ventilator – which would have theoretically been used to take Charlie to the US for the experimental treatment they sought – cannot be used.
Armstrong pressed that the couple’s last wish is to take Charlie home to die. The judge said Great Ormond Street bosses had indicated that there were practical difficulties and said they had suggested a “hospice option”, which Armstrong conceded was the “second best option.”
The frustration between the two sides was apparent as Mr Justice Francis remarked: “These are issues that cry out for mediation rather than a judgement by me,” Rosenberg tweeted. The lawyer for GOSH replied that Charlie’s parents had refused all offers of mediation.
Armstrong told the court: “We struggle with the difficulties the hospital is placing in the way of the parents having a … short period of time before the final act in Charlie’s short life.”
A spokesman for GOSH insists the hospital would wish to meet the family’s wishes if practical, safe and in Charlie’s best interests. GOSH barrister Katie Gollop QC told the court: “We have to balance the parents’ wishes with Charlie’s best interests.”
It comes a day after Charlie’s parents dropped their legal battle to take their terminally ill child to the US for experimental treatment.
The couple say the window in which it would have been possible to treat Charlie, who has a rare genetic condition and brain damage, had closed.
Charlie had been treated at GOSH, where doctors said he was in pain and that further treatment would only increase his suffering. They sought permission from the courts to switch off his life support and allow him to die peacefully.
Gard and Yates resisted, arguing that an experimental treatment available in the US could extend and improve Charlie’s life.
Earlier this month, Bambino Geus, the Vatican’s children’s hospital in Rome, had also offered to take Charlie in.
On Tuesday a spokesman for the hospital said experimental therapy “could have been an opportunity” to help Charlie but it was now too late to start care for the critically ill baby.
The hospital said in a statement that it was not in a position to know what might have happened six months ago and it could not be certain if Charlie would have responded to the experimental therapy.
Hospital director Mariella Enoc told reporters they had done a clinical evaluation and offered medical assistance free of charge.