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Charlie Gard's parents storm out of Wednesday court hearing

Supporters of the Charlie Gard family gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday in London. Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, are challenging a previous decision by the high court that denied them permission to take their son from Great Ormond Street Hospital to the United States of America for nucleoside therapy. (Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

The parents of a critically ill baby, at the center of a heated debate in the United Kingdom, stormed out of an emotional court hearing Wednesday after a judge disagreed with their argument.

Two hours into the hearing, Charlie Gard's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, angrily left the courtroom after the judge presiding over the hearing pressed them on a statement the couple said they never made.

Justice Nicholas Francis told the couple on Monday that he would give them until Wednesday's hearing to provide new evidence that a potential treatment would benefit the 11-month-old baby with mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. The extremely rare genetic condition causes muscle weakness and respiratory failure, leading to the patient needing assistance just to breathe.

Francis told Charlie's parents on Wednesday that they had previously said they would only want to prolong the baby's life if there was hope of improvement, but not in his current state.

"I never said that!" Yates yelled back at Francis, according to CNN. "We said he's not in suffering and in pain. If he was, we wouldn't be up here fighting for that." Then Charlie's father punched a table.

After the judge argued that one of the two parents had made the comment, the couple rose from their seats and left the courtroom shortly before the hearing recessed for lunch.

A decision on the appeal is not expected immediately.

Because the 11-month-old baby suffers from brain damage and is unable to breathe without the help of life support equipment, doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London intend to turn off the medical equipment, claiming the decision is in the best interest of the child.

Charlie's parents disagreed, asking the European Courts to grant them permission to bring Charlie to the United States to undergo an experimental treatment for the disease. Lawyers for the hospital argued in court hearings that any treatment would cause suffering to the child and that he would not benefit from the medical procedure.

"We are continuing to spend every moment, working around the clock to save our dear baby Charlie," the couple said in a statement before the hearing. "We've been requesting this specialized treatment since November, and never asked the hospital, courts or anyone for anything — except for the permission to go."

The case made international headlines last month when the couple's appeal was denied, and both President Donald Trump and Pope Francis have extended offers to help the couple.

Earlier this week, two lawmakers in the United States proposed a bill that would grant the family permanent legal status in order to allow them to bring Charlie to the U.S. and receive the treatment.

 

 

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