Charlie Gard, the terminally ill ten-month-old baby from the UK, will be taken off life support after his "utterly devastated" parents lost their final legal bid to take him to the USA for specialist treatment.
According to the Telegraph, Chris Gard and mother Connie Yates had battled for months to be allowed to take their son, who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage, to America to undergo experimental therapy. Successive courts ruled in favor of Charlie's British doctors, who said it would be more charitable to allow the child to die.
The couple had taken their fight to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, after exhausting all legal options in the UK. However, on Tuesday, all seven judges refused to intervene and ruled the parents' application "inadmissible", stating that "the decision is final."
Judges also said it would be "futile" for Charlie to have further treatment because he has irreversible brain damage and cannot see, hear or move. They concluded the baby was "being exposed to continued pain, suffering and distress" and undergoing experimental treatment with "no prospects of success... would offer no benefit".
The court "also considered that it was appropriate to lift the interim measure" which had required doctors to continue providing life support treatment to Charlie.
Currently, Charlie is in intensive care at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where doctors believe nothing can save him, despite his parents finding a US specialist willing to try an experimental drug treatment. According to reports, the infant's life support will be withdrawn in the next few days.
A spokesman for the hospital said the European court decision marked "the end" of a "difficult process" and said there would be "no rush" to change Charlie's care and said future plans would "involve careful planning and discussion".
A friend of the family told the Daily Mail that Charlie's parents "are absolutely distraught, utterly heartbroken."
"It has ripped their world apart. The agony they have gone through is unimaginable," the source said. "Fortunately they have huge support from a very loving and close family but losing a child is every parent's nightmare. And for them the agony is more unbearable as they have fought so very hard for treatment they firmly believed would save Charlie's life."
Well-wishers have continued to donate on Charlie's GoFundMe page since the judges' final decision on Tuesday. The campaign has exceeded its goal of £1.3m, raising nearly £1.4m to pay for treatment in the US.
Reads the page: "We just CAN'T let our baby die when there is something that might help him! We won't give up on him because he has a rare disease. He deserves a chance and he deserves a life as much as anyone else. We understand that rare diseases don't get enough funding for research but why should that be a reason for a child to die?!"
One well-wisher wrote, "I pray God changes the hearts of the doctors to allow Charlie to get the care he needs and deserves."
"Praying for you! Don't give up," wrote another.
A GoFundMe spokesman told the Yorkshire Post officials will have discussions with Charlie's parents about what will happen to money raised if life-support treatment is withdrawn.