Eclectic Blue

Letting go

Comments Off on Letting go 13 June 2017

Letting go

The terrible conflict facing the parents of the terminally ill boy Charlie Gard is not my business. As they desperately try to keep him alive by taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights, I suppose I should keep my thoughts to myself, but what’s the point of free speech and opinions if you don’t give voice to them? In my mind, I keep coming back to the same old thing. What if this happened to me and what would I do?

The BBC reports that Charlie has “mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare disorder that affects the genetic building blocks that give energy to cells.” He cannot see, hear, move, cry or swallow and his condition is terminal. The very best doctors in the land have said that experimental treatment in America, for which the family has raised £1.3 million, will not work and the courts have ruled that Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity. From a distance, I can only find myself agreeing with the doctors and the judges.

Charlie Gard is on life support and plainly has no quality of life whatsoever. All his major organs are affected. The condition from which he suffers will not improve regardless of any treatment and even if the “experimental” treatment was successful, how would success be measured? Charlie’s brain is, according to doctors at Great Ormond Street, is extensively damaged at cellular level and the American doctor offering the treatment readily concedes treatment will not change this. A top American neurologist suggested that the experimental treatment “might, in theory, offer some benefit, though it has never previously been tried in this situation.” British doctors say “it is likely that Charlie would experience pain and discomfort from continued treatment; it is also unlikely, given what is known about it, that Charlie would benefit from nucleoside treatment.” Moreover, they add “continued mechanical ventilation in intensive care is so terrible a life that it would not be worth living.”

All this medical information takes away much of the human aspect out of this because, when it comes down to it, Charlie Gard has a mum and dad who love him very much and don’t want to lose him. The protocol exists whereby if the parents of a sick child cannot agree the way forward with doctors, then the courts must decide. I don’t see how else the matter could be concluded.

More than twice removed from this terrible situation, I find the decision an easy one. I happen to believe in medical science and if the same view is held by all the brilliant doctors at St Ormonds Street, I would suggest they are right. I hate the idea of a young child suffering or living a worthless life. Charlie Gard appears to be in both categories and I hope the European Court makes the right decision.

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