The parents of critically-ill baby Charlie Gard have dropped their legal bid to send him to the United States for experimental treatment.

People attach messages for Charlie Gard and his parents to the railings outside the High Court ahead of a hearing on the baby's future, in London, Britain, July 24, 2017.
People attach messages for Charlie Gard and his parents to the railings outside the High Court ahead of a hearing on the baby's future, in London, Britain, July 24, 2017.

The parents of Charlie Gard returned to London's High Court on Monday to withdraw an application to send him to the United States for experimental treatment.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates cried as their lawyer Grant Armstrong told the court that recent medical tests on Charlie showed the baby has irreversible muscular damage.

"It's too late for Charlie," Armstrong said. "The damage has been done."

Armstrong said the news had left Charlie's parents extremely distressed and they now "wish to spend the maximum amount of time they have left with Charlie."

The 11-month-old has a rare genetic condition and his parents wanted him to receive experimental treatment in the United States.

But doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), where Charlie is being treated, had argued that the treatment wouldn't help and could cause the child pain.

They wanted to switch off his life support and allow him to die peacefully.

Britain's courts backed by the European Court of Human Rights also refused permission on the grounds that it would prolong his suffering without any realistic prospect it would help the 11-month-old child.

The couple had met with Michio Hirano, a professor of neurology at New York's Columbia University Medical Center, who was willing to lead Charlie's experimental treatment.

After examining Charlie, who cannot breathe without a ventilator, Hirano said there was at least a 10 percent chance his nucleoside therapy could improve the baby's condition, and that there is a "small but significant" chance it would help aid brain functions.

TRT World's Sarah Morice reports.

International interest

The case has attracted interventions from US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, who have both voiced support for Charlie.

It also led to a fierce debate about medical ethics and whether the hospital treating the child or his parents should determine his fate.

On Saturday, Mary MacLeod, chairman of GOSH said thousands of abusive messages including death threats had been sent to staff while families of other sick children had been harassed.

"We fully understand that there is intense public interest, and that emotions run high," MacLeod said. "However, in recent weeks the GOSH community has been subjected to a shocking and disgraceful tide of hostility and disturbance."

Previous court hearings have witnessed moments of tension and anger between GOSH's lawyers and Charlie's parents, but Yates said they had never condoned any threatening or abusive remarks towards the hospital's staff.

"We are extremely upset by the backlash we have received after Great Ormond Street Hospital put out their statement," she said. "Like them we have been shocked by some of the public response to this case and agree with them that it is disgraceful that doctors have received death threats."

Source: TRT World