Charlie Gard, an 11-month-old boy suffering from a rare genetic disorder, will be examined by an American doctor next week.
On Friday, High Court Judge Nicholas Francis said that he was “open-minded about the evidence” to come after the visit of Dr. Michio Hirano of Columbia University.
Hirano’s research focuses on mitochondrial diseases and genetic myopathies and he has treated others with conditions similar to Charlie’s.
He testified on Thursday that Charlie has a 10 percent chance of improving with experimental treatment available in the U.S. The judge ruled he could meet with Charlie’s doctor’s to discuss his case.
Charlie’s parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, have been in a long legal battle with the hospital to keep him alive. On Thursday, they walked out of a courtroom after arguing with the judge, but returned later in the day.
His family believes the experimental treatment has a chance of improving the boy’s quality of life and reducing the brain damage the illness has already inflicted on him.
Dr. Hirano will determine whether Charlie is eligible for treatment. Afterwards, the judge will rule on what comes next.
“We’ll have to wait and see the evidence,” Judge Francis said. He promised to rule by July 25.
The London hospital, which is known as one of the world’s best children’s hospitals, has argued Charlie should be removed from his ventilator and allowed to die with his dignity.
The hospital has said that “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 [Great Ormond Street Hospital ] treats its child patients.”
New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center have both announced their support and willingness to take in Charlie if all of their conditions are met. Charlie needs to be transferred safely, “legal hurdles” cleared and it needs to “receive emergency approval from the FDA for an experimental treatment as appropriate.”