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Charlie Gard: US doctor claims baby 'isn't in pain' and new treatment has 10% success rate

Connie Yates and Chris Gard will be back in court after the High Court hearing was adjourned on Monday (July 10)

The parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard will be back at the High Court today (Thursday July 13) to present fresh evidence about experimental treatment in a bid to save their son's life.

Connie Yates and Chris Gard will attend the hearing following an adjournment on Monday (July 10).

Mr Justice Francis, the High Court judge who heard the initial case at the Family Division of the High Court in March, heard evidence earlier this week from Great Ormond Street Hospital lawyers.

 

He adjourned the hearing and gave Charlie's parents until Wednesday (July 12) to prepare their submission of new evidence which will be heard at a hearing today, beginning at 10.30am.

Charlie Gard in April(Image: PA)

We will be bringing you all the latest updates about Charlie and today's court hearing as we get them below.

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And that's all for today

We’re now closing our blog and coverage for today.

We’ll be back with more Charlie Gard updates soon.
Thank you very much for joining us.

Connie Yates leaves court sobbing as lawyers decide next step

The court hearing is not yet over - but momentarily paused to decide how to take the case forward.

Court sketch shows Charlie's parents hearing evidence from US expert

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Charlie Gard's parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard listening as an American doctor offering to treat their son gives evidence(Image: PA)

Judge gives warning to those abusing NHS staff

The judge said:

“They will be dealt with as severely as legal system permits.”

GOSH staff subjected to 'vile abuse and threats' says judge

Judge says it’s come to his attention that GOSH staff have been subject to the most vile abuse and threats.

American witness stands down

Judge tells expert that reporters here say his identity known in the US. Press want to name him here. Judge may have to decide tomorrow.

Trying therapy is 'only way' to see how much brain dysfunction there is

The American expert tells the court the only way to tell how much of brain dysfunction is permanent is to try the therapy.

Final question from guardian's lawyer as Mr Armstrong (Charlie's parents) returns

US expert suggests a second opinion is needed

Witness suggests that someone with greater expertise could asses whether Charlie’s less responsive condition is due to brain dysfunction, which is potentially curable, or brain damage which is incurable.

Expert says his new opinion is based on new research. But he doesn’t know reasons for Charlie’s encephalopathy: is it structural or not?

US doctor shares concerns for Charlie’s small head circumference

The US doctor is concerned about Charlie’s small head circumference, and says report is that Charlie is less responsive since April.

US expert admits new therapy 'can't repair brain damage'

As the court resumes, the American witness, a neurological expert, accepts nucleoside therapy can improve function but only if damage has not occurred. He also accepts that it can’t repair damage.


Judge orders 10 minute break

High Court judge ordered a ten minute break, two hours into the cross-examination of an American medical expert witness, who is appearing from New York via a video link.

Supporters of the Charlie Gard family gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice(Image: Getty Images Europe)

US expert to now be cross-examined by counsel for Charlie's guardian

The American doctor will now be questioned and cross-examined by Victoria Butler-Cole - counsel for Charlie’s guardian.

US doctor has a treatment plan that has been 'shared with colleagues in Rome and Barcelona'

The expert witness told the court:

“We’d need ethical support, FDA approval etc.

“We’d hope for enhanced muscle strength. We expect small but significant brain improvement.

“Slowing of progression of disease in mice is the basis for expecting small but significant chance of brain improvement.”

US doctor says 'small but significant chance' of improvement in brain function

Judge asks if US doc would see Charlie if he adjourns case

No brain function is 'not a human life' said US doctor

GOSH lawyer, Ms Gollop, highlights a phrase the US expert once said:

“A body function without brain function is not a human life in my opinion.”

Charlie has been 'terminal' since being put on ventilator

American expert says Charlie is in terminal stage of his life — ever since put on ventilator.

Charlie Gard in April(Image: PA)

US doctor admits Charlie would be the first 'experiment' of treatment

GOSH lawyer Ms Gollop continues her cross-examination of US witness

Charlie Gard’s parents feel “stripped of their rights”

Charlie Gard’s parents have told a judge reviewing the benefits of allowing the terminally-ill baby to undergo a treatment trial abroad that they feel “stripped of their rights”.

Charlie Gard's parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard arrive at the Royal Courts of Justice in London(Image: PA)

Charlie's parents uneasy during cross-examination

Katie Gollop, QC for GOSH, is now cross examining the American witness. She suggests he’s never asked to see his medical records.

The witness says he’s seen summaries. Some raw data requested last week but couldn’t be opened.

The witness is asked if he’s seen the judges decision in the earlier case - No, he hasn’t.

Charlie's parents give a thumbs up during evidence

American witness gives treatment a 10% success rate

Jim Old, for Sky News, has been updating from court. He says the American witness has confirmed that some of the evidence relating to the treatment proposed for Charlie is new, because it was published since April.

The witness has tested a disease similar to Charlie’s on mice. Here is a summary of his evidence:


  • The mice were being treated for a slightly different condition. The witness believes enough similarity to try it
  • The mice had their lives extended and there was evidence of the effectiveness of the nucleosides in their brain function
  • His preference would be to have data from animal testing before trying it on humans
  • But he said if there was a need for a compassionate use they would consider proceeding without animal testing
  • Ideally they would carry out mice studies first but the correct mice are not currently available for testing
  • Even if they had the mice it would take at least 6 months and possibly 1 -2 years to complete the study
  • Random clinical trials are not an option either because of the unusual nature of the disease

Mr Armstrong, for Connie Yates and Chris Gard, asks the witness what he thinks are the current chances of success and what has changed since April.


The witness puts the chance of clinically meaningful improvement at at least 10% and says this is “somewhat conservative”

He acknowledges that he is talking about a slightly different disease but puts the chance of improvement at somewhere between 11 and 55%.

Five out of nine patients were able to reduce the amount of time they spent on a ventilator by 8hrs a day or more. One patient was weaned off the ventilator altogether, he added.

GOSH statement says Charlie has 'no quality of life'

In the meantime, Joshua Rozenburg has obtained a copy of Great Ormond Street’s position statement and has been tweeting it.

It reads:

“Charlie is on a low dose of oral morphine. Before that was started quite recently, all of those caring for him at GOSH hoped very much that Charlie did not experience pain.

“They did so in the knowledge that if he did not it was because he had no experience at all because he was beyond experience.

“A world where only parents speak and decide for children — and where children have no separate identity or rights and no court to hear and protect them — is far from the world in which GOSH treats its child patients.”

“We have treated over 1000 patients with mitochondrial disease and nucleoside treatment where appropriate

Charlie “has no quality of life and no real prospect of any quality of life”

“What has been very difficult … is the effect on Charlie of the delay.” He has had to “endure months on a ventilator

“He has grown bigger but growth has not been accompanied by health. The reverse is true and there are signs of deterioration”

“GOSH will act in accordance with Charlie’s best interests and its duty of care to him…”

“It will continue to provide him with the highest quality of care … and to honour Charlie’s rights as his own, unique human being.”

American witness remains anonymous

He is set to give evidence via video link but there technical issues in the courtroom with the feed

Judge apologies to Charlie's parents after disagreement

The judge, addressing Connie and Chris, said: “I understand why you left the courtroom. Understand how difficult this is for you both. No problem if need to do it again.”

Court has resumed and evidence to be heard shortly

Court set to resume shortly

The court will gather after their lunch break at 1.55pm, for a 2pm, where evidence will be heard via video link from a US expert.

Court adjourns for lunch

Hearing will not finish today

Judge Francis in Gard case hearing: “We’re not going to finish this case today, that’s completely clear to me.”
The judge will consider granting more time if need be.


Parents have still not returned to court...

Hearing continues in absence of Chris Gard and Connie Yates

Their solicitor has also followed them out of the courtroom.

Judge offers to adjourn so parents don't miss evidence

Parents walk out of court in anger

Joshua Rozenburg tweeterd: “Chris Gard and Connie Yates storm out of court after disagreement with judge about what they had said during the hearing three months ago.”

New treatment no greater side affects than diarrhoea

But Mr Armstrong, for Chris Gard and Connie Yates, said: “Unlike toxic cancer therapies this treatment has no greater side effect than diarrhoea.”

Great Ormond Street Hospital lawyer speaks

Katie Gollop QC, for GOSH, said: “The evidence being relied upon today is “not new” and very familiar.”

Judge considering more evidence from parents' lawyer

Generous donations on fundraising page

Generous donations are coming in as the court hearing unfolds, including a £250 pledge by ‘anonymous’.

Click here to donate.

Angry murmurs from Charlie's parents after guardian's comment

'There is no irreversible brain damage' says lawyer

Judge reads letter from Great Ormond Street Hospital doctors

After reading, the judge said: “The question raised by letter I have just read is whether Charlie’s brain damage is irreversible.”

Meanwhile, campaigners are still outside the court

Charlie Gard supporters outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London(Image: PA)

Judge hits out 'inability' to measure Charlie's skull

Judge Francis is irritated at Gard hearing as lawyer disputes issue of Charlie skull size and whether this indicates brain damage.

Mr Armstrong says there is a dispute over Charlie’s head circumference as his mother, Connie, measured it today.

But the judge noted her measurement is 2cm different from the hospital.



The hospital says there has been no change in skull measurement in past three months, but parents say Charlie’s head is growing.

Judge demands a third party to measure Charlie's head for brain growth

Judge revived the argument from Monday, when the parties were discussing the growth or otherwise of Charlie’s head.

Catherine Glenn Foster, President and CEO for Americans United for Life, quoted the judge:

“I want independent third party to measure Charlie’s head. Need evidence.

“We cannot have this critically important case affected by such a simple process as measurement.”

“I want that resolved by somebody in the next 24 hrs.”

US expert says MRI scans 'doesn't indicate irreversible brain damage'

Mr Armstrong said:

“One expert puts the chance of the treatment crossing the blood-brain barrier at 100%.

“The expert in America doesn’t believe that Charlie’s MRI scans indicate irreversible brain damage.”


Counsel is inviting the court to review finding of 'structural brain damage'

Hospitals in New York and Rome 'have the information they need'

Charlie Gard in April(Image: PA)

Judge told the court that hospitals in New York and Rome have not seen Charlie.

But Mr Armstrong replied: “GOSH have given them the information they would need for a referral.”

Court hears new medical research

Mr Armstrong is now addressing the court on detailed medical research.

Previous finding 'unsafe' says parents' counsel

Mr Armstrong said:

“Evidence that treatment has more than 50% chance of crossing the blood/brain barrier undermines finding that treatment is futile.

“This renders unsafe the court’s previous finding that the treatment would have a ‘vanishingly small’ chance of success.”

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