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Protesters rally to support baby Charlie Gard’s parents as hospital reports threats

Protesters in London held a rally Sunday to back the fight of British parents of a critically ill baby to get him an experimental medical treatment in the U.S., as officials at a British hospital where Charlie Gard is on life support say they have received death threats.

About 20 activists, including Rev. Patrick Mahoney and others from the United States, gathered Sunday afternoon outside the High Court in London where legal proceedings will resume Monday with new medical evidence expected. A vigil was also planned for later in the day.

Charlie has a rare genetic condition and suffers from brain damage.

Britain Sick Baby

Charlie, 11 months old, suffers from mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease that has left him brain-damaged and unable to breathe unaided. His parents have been locked in court battles to get him experimental treatment in the U.S. (Family of Charlie Gard via AP)

His parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, are fighting to get him more medical care — an experimental treatment in the U.S. that they acknowledge won’t save his life, but that might at least improve it.

“He wakes up, he enjoys his tickles, we lie next to him,” Yates told CBC’s Susan Ormiston earlier this month.

“If he was suffering, I couldn’t do it. I promise you.”

But Great Ormond Street Hospital officials say the experimental treatment won’t work and will just cause the 11-month-old more suffering. They argue that his life support should be turned off and he should receive palliative care.

Hospital chair Mary MacLeod said the London police have been contacted because of numerous threats received by the hospital’s employees in the case.

“Staff have received abuse both in the street and online,” she said. “Thousands of abusive messages have been sent to doctors and nurses whose life’s work is to care for sick children. Many of these messages are menacing, including death threats.”

MacLeod said families visiting other ill children have also been “harassed and discomforted” on the grounds of the renowned hospital in London.

Pope, Trump interested in baby’s fate

Charlie’s parents have lost all previous court cases, including one before the European Court of Human Rights, which were designed to force the hospital to let them bring their son to the United States for an experimental treatment.

The loss in the European court, following an earlier defeat in Britain’s Supreme Court, seemed final.

Britain Sick Baby

Connie Yates and Chris Gard arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Friday for another hearing into the case of their terminally ill baby. (The Associated Press)

But both Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump expressed an interest in Charlie’s fate, and the hospital asked for a new court hearing because of what the family claimed was new medical evidence.

Charlie has been examined by Dr. Michio Hirano, an American neurology expert from Columbia Medical Center in New York who has designed the proposed experimental treatment.

The doctor’s findings are expected to figure heavily in Monday’s court proceedings, as are the results of Charlie’s recent brain scans.

A lawyer representing the hospital said in a brief hearing Friday that the latest brain scan results make for “sad reading.”

That prompted an angry outburst from Charlie’s father, Chris Gard, and prompted his mother, Connie Yates, to burst into tears.

CBC | Health News