The UK government won’t play a role in deciding the medical treatment of a terminally ill baby whose parents want to take him to the US for experimental treatment.
Justice Secretary David Lidington said the decision on 11-month-old Charlie Gard will be made by judges acting “independent and dispassionately” based on the facts of the complicated case.
Charlie’s parents are protesting the decision by Great Ormond Street Hospital to turn down their request to bring him to the US for treatment.
The hospital has been backed by a series of court rulings, but the case is expected to be back in Britain’s High Court on Monday.
The hospital requested the hearing because of new medical information from researchers at the Vatican’s children’s hospital suggesting experimental treatment might possibly be useful.
Clinicians from the Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital’s neurosciences department said tests in mice and patients with a similar, but not identical, genetic condition as Charlie had shown significant improvement is possible.
At present, the boy isn’t able to breathe unaided. He has a rare inherited mitochondrial disease that has affected many of his vital organs and left him with brain damage.
Unless the court hearing produces a change, the hospital is barred by a series of court decisions from allowing the baby to be taken elsewhere for treatment.
The parents have been backed by Pope Francis and US President Donald Trump in their quest to seek treatment.
Supporters say they will give the hospital a petition signed by 350,000 people backing the parents’ rights to take the baby from the hospital for treatment.