Two parents broke down Tuesday as a London judge told them their 8-month-old baby could be taken off life support against their will, the Guardian reports. Charlie Gard was born with mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which causes worsening muscle weakness and brain damage. Only 16 children worldwide are thought to have it. The judge said he rendered his verdict "with the heaviest of hearts" but that it was in "Charlie's best interests" to transition him to palliative care and allow him to "die with dignity." The judge went on to praise the "absolute dedication" of Chris Gard and Connie Yates to their child—they raised $1.5 million on GoFundMe for experimental treatment in the US—but Gard and Yates had left the courtroom by the time the judge was finished explaining his verdict, according to the BBC.
Charlie has irreversible brain damage, is deaf and blind, and requires a ventilator to breathe, the Telegraph reports. But doctors say he can still feel pain. The judge ruled keeping Charlie on life support to move him to the US for treatment would possibly cause him undue suffering. Even the US expert offering to treat Charlie says his condition likely wouldn't improve. Charlie will be kept on life support for another three weeks while Gard and Yates, who say they are "devastated" and facing "every parent's worst nightmare," decide whether to appeal the ruling. (These parents gave up "everything" to keep sick baby alive.)