Charlie Gard has become a household name but sadly for all the wrong reasons. Even World leaders such as the Pope and the President of the USA have intervened.
Baby Charlie was born on 04 August 2016 and shortly afterwards was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder. Charlie has severe brain damage and many other organs and parts of his body have been affected. He cannot breathe unaided.
The hospital treating Charlie, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, said that Charlie’s brain is severely damaged and this cannot be reversed. The parents believed experimental treatment in the US could reverse Charlie’s brain damage. Both parties feel they are acting in Charlie’s best interests but are poles apart in their views.
Should Charlie be allowed to travel to the USA for the treatment? More latterly, should Charlie be allowed to die at home?
Medical science versus the legal rights of the parents:
The cost of this case is eye watering, not only in monetary terms, but also in terms of the mental and emotional anguish suffered by those involved. The time and energy the parties have invested in this battle is time away from Charlie, which can never be regained.
In April 2017, Mr Justice Francis considered all the evidence and found in favour of the hospital. The Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights have upheld the initial decision.
Words of wisdom:
Mr Justice Francis has stated that parents and hospitals who disagree over life and death treatment for a child should be forced to mediate in order to avoid litigation. The Judge recognised that the chances of negotiating whether a child should live or die seems impossible. However, the learned Judge said that “mediation should be attempted in all cases such as this one, even if all it does is achieve a greater understanding by the parties of each other’s positions.”
Can Mediation really help?
In a nutshell, yes it could. When parties come to mediation, often the level of trust and communication between them has broken down completely. Mediation often improves communication between the parties and promotes empathy and understanding of the other party’s views. It offers the parties a safe and confidential forum where they can speak frankly. Where both parties are willing to be reasonable, mediation can enhance the prospects of reaching an agreed outcome on some or even all the issues, at a fraction of the time, costs and stress of legal proceedings.