British baby Charlie Gard dies after legal health battle - - No One Gets You Closer

British baby Charlie Gard dies after legal health battle

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Family of Charlie Gard Family of Charlie Gard

LONDON (AP) -- Charlie Gard, the critically ill British baby at the center of a legal battle that attracted the attention of Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump, has died. He would have turned 1 next week.

Charlie suffered from a rare genetic disease, mitochondrial depletion syndrome, that caused brain damage and left him unable to breathe unaided.

His parents fought for the right to take him to the U.S. for an experimental therapy they believed could prolong his life. But Charlie's doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital objected, saying the treatment wouldn't help and might cause him to suffer.

The dispute ended up in court.

A judge ruled Thursday that Charlie should be transferred to a hospice and taken off life support after his parents and the hospital that had been treating him failed to agree on an end-of-life plan.

Great Ormond Street Hospital in London has expressed its condolences after the death of Charlie Gard, the terminally ill child who died on week short of his first birthday.

The hospital, which had been at the center of a legal battle with the child's parents, issued a statement late Friday following news of the child's death.

The hospital said "everyone at Great Ormond Street Hospital sends their heartfelt condolences to Charlie's parents and loved ones at this very sad time."

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence expressed his condolences on Facebook:

"Saddened to hear of the passing of Charlie Gard. Karen & I offer our prayers & condolences to his loving parents during this difficult time."

Pence's boss, President Donald Trump, had offered his support to the child, whose legal battle also attracted the attention of Pope Francis.

Medical ethicist Arthur Caplan said the Charlie Gard case shows how the medical profession is struggling to adjust to the age of social media, which puts the general public in the middle of decisions that in the past would have been private issues for doctors and the family.

Caplan, of New York University's Langone Medical Center says "I do think that in an era of social media, it is possible to rally huge numbers of people to your cause ... the medical ethics have not caught up."

The heated commentary prompted Judge Francis to criticize the effects of social media and those "who know almost nothing about this case but who feel entitled to express opinions."

Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, Britain's premier children's hospital, reported that its doctors and nurses were receiving serious threats over Charlie's case. London police are investigating.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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