Inside a London courtroom Friday, emotions were running so high during a pre-trial hearing about Charlie Gard's fate that his parents stormed out, cursing and sobbing.
But as the Royal Courts of Justice in London get closer to making a decision about the 11-month-old's fate, emotions are running just as high outside.
Protesters who want Charlie to receive an experimental medical treatment rallied outside the courthouse on Sunday, according to the Associated Press, including some who'd come from as far as the United States. Others have sent death threats to the hospital treating him.
“In recent weeks the community has been subjected to a shocking and disgraceful tide of hostility and disturbance,” the Great Ormond Street Hospital said in a statement. “Staff have received abuse both in the street and online. Thousands of abusive messages have been sent to doctors and nurses whose life's work is to care for sick children.
“Many of these messages are menacing, including death threats. Families have been harassed and discomforted while visiting their children, and we have received complaints of unacceptable behaviour even within the hospital itself.”
The hospital said it had been in contact with police and “will do everything possible” to hold people responsible for the threats.
This week, the court will hear testimony in Gard's case and likely come to a decision. The explosive proceedings in a pre-trial hearing Friday have already made international news.
On Friday, an attorney for Great Ormond Street Hospital told a judge that there was an updated brain scan on the terminally ill baby, but that it made for “sad reading.”
Charlie’s father, Chris Gard yelled “evil,” and then “I'm not f------ listening to this biased s--- anymore,” according to CNN. Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates, began sobbing as the couple stormed out of the courtroom.
The results of the brain scan were not publicly disclosed. They were intended to see whether his brain damage was reversible.
Charlie’s case has captured the attention of both armchair bioethicists and world leaders.
The 11-month-old has mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, a rare genetic condition that has robbed him of the ability to see, hear, move or breathe on his own. He’s being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital, alive only because a machine is helping him breathe. His doctors have concluded that nothing more can be done for him and he should be taken off life support.
But his parents want him to undergo an experimental treatment in the United States that they say could help.
So far, other courts have sided with Charlie’s doctors, who say the treatment is a fruitless endeavor that has not been tested on someone with Charlie’s specific condition and that it will only cause the baby more pain.
But Charlie’s parents have garnered support from President Trump, Pope Francis and U.S. lawmakers.
If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2017
It’s unclear how the U.S. government or any other outside entities would be able to assist.
Charlie’s mother spent this week meeting with doctors at the hospital and the American specialist, Michio Hirano, according to the Associated Press. Hirano devised the experimental treatment that Charlie’s parents want the infant to undergo. The doctor testified that there’s a chance that Charlie could have “clinically meaningful improvement.”
Friday’s hearing was the first time his parents were told about the latest results in the crucial test of Charlie’s brain function.
Next week, Charlie’s parents will present evidence at London’s High Court, provided it is new and relevant to the case, according to the AP.
At Friday’s court hearing, after Charlie’s parents left, hospital lawyer Katie Gollop apologized to the judge.
“Almost all the medical evidence in this case makes for sad reading,” she said. “I’m very sorry. I didn’t mean to cause distress.”