UK court rehears Charlie Gard case in light of new evidence

LONDON (AP) — A British court assessed new evidence Monday in the case of 11-month-old Charlie Gard after his mother pleaded with judges to allow the terminally ill infant to receive experimental treatment that previous rulings have prevented.

Great Ormond Street Hospital, which had intended to turn off the baby’s life support systems, applied for the court hearing because of “new evidence relating to potential treatment for his condition” from researchers at the Vatican’s children’s hospital and another facility outside of Britain.

The application came after both Pope Francis and President Donald Trump fueled international attention to the case, with hospitals in Rome and the U.S. offering to provide Charlie the experimental therapy.

As the hearing got underway, Judge Nicholas Francis insisted there had to be “new and powerful” evidence to reverse earlier British court rulings barring Charlie from traveling abroad for treatment.

“There is not a person alive who would not want to save Charlie,” Francis said. “If there is new evidence I will hear it.”

But he rejected an attempt by the child’s parents to have another judge hear the case.

“I did my job,” he said. “I will continue to do my job.”

A petition supporting Charlie’s right to treatment has garnered around 350,000 signatures and more than 1.3 million pounds ($1.7 million) have been raised online for his case.

The re-opening of the case at London’s High Court may allow Charlie to receive the therapy treatment at his current hospital or abroad.

Previous courts ruled that Charlie couldn’t receive the treatment for his mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease that left him with brain damage and unable to breathe unaided, and that he should be taken off of life support.

The rulings sided with the hospital’s original stance that the experimental treatment was “unjustified” and might cause Charlie more suffering with no cure.

Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, told Sky News that she wants the judges to listen to experts on his condition who say the treatment might help.

“I hope they can see there is more of a chance than previously thought and hope they trust us as parents and trust the other doctors,” she said.

Yates said that seven specialists from around the world have voiced their support and told her that the treatment has an “up to 10 percent chance of working.”

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