Connie Yates and Chris Gard welcomed a baby boy named Charlie last August. The new parents, who live in London, took their newborn son home from the hospital, but eight weeks later, he was taken back and hasn’t been home since. Now the hospital wants to let Charlie die, but his parents are fighting to get him to the United States for his one shot at a treatment to save his life.
“We have been with Charlie day in, day out and watched our poor baby get weaker and weaker, now he needs a ventilator to breathe but we have never lost hope throughout all this time,” Yates wrote on the family’s GoFundMe page. “After endlessly researching and speaking to Dr’s all over the world we found hope in a medication that may help him and a Dr in America has accepted him in his hospital.”
Charlie has been diagnosed with a very rare mitochondrial depletion syndrome that causes progressive muscle weakening. He is just one of 16 diagnosed cases in the world. Great Ormond Street Hospital, where Charlie is a patient, has taken the family to court in an attempt to gain permission to turn off Charlie’s ventilator and let him die. His parents just want the chance to get him to the United States and try the treatment. Even if it fails, they know that at least they would be helping to advance research into treatments that can help another child someday.
“He can move his mouth, he can move his hands. He can’t open them fully, but he can still open his eyes and see us, in response to us. We don’t feel he’s in pain at all. We just want to have our chance. It would never be a cure but it could help him live. If it saves him, amazing. I want to save others. Even if Charlie doesn’t make it through this, I don’t ever want another mum and their child to go through this,” Yates told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show.
Their court date with the hospital is set for April 3. The parents simply want the judge to trust them as Charlie’s parents and biggest advocates.
“Someone else in the world is willing to take him and help him,” she said of the doctor in the United States. “Why can’t we try that[?]”
If the treatment works, and Charlie’s life is saved, it will mean that the medication, never used for Charlie’s exact condition before, can be used to save the lives of more children in the future. So far, the couple has managed to raise over 400,000 pounds toward their goal of over a million to get their son to the U.S.
While the hospital continues to say it is doing what it believes is best for Charlie, his parents know that they are his greatest supporters and vow to continue to do what they can to give him a chance to live his life.