Charlie Gard dies in hospice, parents say

Charlie Gard, the critically ill British baby whose parents fought a highly publicized court battle to treat him with an experimental approach in the U.S., died on Friday in a hospice, his parent said.

Gard, who was 11 months old at the time of his death, suffered from a rare genetic disorder called mitochondrial depletion syndrome. Due to the illness, the baby had brain damage and was unable to breathe or move his limbs unaided. 

Gard would have turned 1 next week.

The infant's parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, lost a bitter court battle to bring him to the U.S. for the experimental treatment. The parents then spent months trying to persuade London's Great Ormond Street Hospital to let the ill baby go to the U.S. for an experimental treatment they believed could help him. The parents raised more than $1.7 million to take him to America -- but Charlie's doctors opposed the idea, saying it would not help and cause the sick baby more suffering.

British courts and the European Court of Human Rights all sided with the hospital in its bid to remove life support and allow Charlie to die naturally. His parents gave up on their legal fight earlier this week after scans showed that Charlie's muscles had deteriorated so much that the damage was irreversible. They wanted to take their son home to die but were shot down by Great Ormond Street Hospital who said Charlie's complex needs made that impractical. 

Yates left the hearing in tears, as the hospital and Gard's parents continued to disagree on how long he should be kept on life support once he was taken to the hospice, where the baby spent his final hours.

The case attracted national attention after President Trump and Pope Francis expressed support for Gard's parents. U.S.-based religious and anti-abortion activists flew to London to support the family's battle.

New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center had both said they would take the the baby and give him the care he needed. However, the transfer would have undergone "legal hurdles" that would have needed an "emergency approval from the FDA for an experimental treatment as appropriate."

"Mummy and Daddy love you so much Charlie, we always have and we always will and we are so sorry that we couldn't save you," his parents wrote when they announced their decision."We had the chance but we weren't allowed to give you that chance.

"Sweet dreams baby. Sleep tight, our beautiful little boy."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.