Charlie Gard, the terminally ill British baby at the center of a legal battle that raised ethical issues and captured the world’s attention, has died. He would have turned one next week.
The infant died a day after a court ruled he could be moved to a hospice and removed from life support.
“Our beautiful little boy has gone," his mother, Connie Yates, said in a statement obtained by the BBC. "We are so proud of you Charlie."
Charlie suffered from the rare, genetic disease called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, which causes progressive brain damage and muscle weakness.
His mother and father, Chris Gard, fought a lengthy battle with Great Ormond Street Hospital to get permission to take Charlie to the United States for an experimental treatment called nucleoside bypass therapy.
The couple tried for five months to convince authorities to allow Charlie to be moved, but judges from the High Court, Supreme Court and the European Court all agreed with doctors who said the treatment would not be beneficial.
Charlie’s case attracted attention from all over the world, including that of Pope Francis, who said he was following the case “with affection and sadness.”
“For them he prays, hoping that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end is not ignored,” the Vatican said in a statement.
The Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome offered to allow Yates and Gard to keep Charlie on life support there until a decision was ultimately made, but it was later determined that such a move could not legally occur.
President Donald Trump also weighed in on the matter, tweeting: “If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so."
On Thursday, the couple reportedly said their “final wish” to have more time with their son was denied, as a judge ruled to move Charlie to a hospice and have life support withdrawn.
“Most people won’t ever have to go through what we have been through,” Yates said in a statement. “We’ve had no control over our son’s life and no control over our son’s death.”
Doctors treating Charlie said the “risk of an unplanned and chaotic end to Charlie’s life” at home was “unthinkable.”
“We deeply regret that profound and heartfelt differences between Charlie’s doctors and his parents have played out in court over such a protracted period,” Great Ormond Street Hospital said in a statement, The New York Times reported. “We will never do anything that could cause our patients unnecessary and prolonged suffering.”