Charlie Gard, the terminally ill British boy whose heartbreaking case elicited sympathy and support from Pope Francis and President Donald Trump, and inflamed an international debate over end-of-life rights, died Friday.
Charlie's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, announced the 11-month-old's death a day after a British court ruled that the infant should be moved to hospice care and disconnected from a ventilator, a spokesman for the family told BBC News, the Guardian and the Associated Press.
Yates said in a statement to the Guardian, "Our beautiful little boy has gone, we are so proud of you Charlie."
The news of Charlie's death reverberated across the globe Friday evening.
Francis wrote in a heartfelt message on social media, "I entrust little Charlie to the Father and pray for his parents and all those who loved him."
Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "deeply saddened" and extended thoughts and prayers to Charlie's parents, according to BBC News. And Vice President Pence said on Twitter that he was "saddened to hear of the passing of Charlie Gard."
For several months, Charlie's parents had been fighting in court to keep him alive. His case became the personification of a passionate debate over the right to live or die, his parents' right to choose for their child and whether his doctors had an obligation to intervene in his care.
The bitter legal battle came to an exhausting and emotional end Thursday when High Court Judge Nicholas Francis made the decision to move Charlie to hospice care and let him die after Charlie's parents and doctors could not agree on how much time the child should have to live. The judge said Charlie should be removed from the ventilator, which "will inevitably result in Charlie's death within a short period of time thereafter."
London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, which had been treating Charlie, said it had been "a uniquely painful and distressing process" for everyone.
Charlie, who was born with a rare genetic condition called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, had sustained brain damage that had taken away his ability to see, hear or breathe on his own.
His parents had raised money to take him to the United States for an experimental treatment they had not yet tried, but doctors at Great Ormond Street asserted that the child had no chance of survival. The case trickled through the British court system and ended up in the European Court of Human Rights, which declined to hear it, upholding previous court rulings that it was in Charlie's best interest to let him die.
It was that decision that thrust Charlie's case into the international spotlight.
In June, the Vatican's children's hospital said it would admit the boy, with the pope saying on social media that "to defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all."
Trump said on Twitter that the United States "would be delighted to" help.
Charlie's parents said the support had given them renewed hope. Hospitals in Rome and New York opened their doors to the boy, and the High Court gave his parents the opportunity to present fresh evidence in the case. Great Ormond Street said its doctors and nurses had been getting death threats over the case.
Michio Hirano, a neurology expert at Columbia Medical Center in New York, and doctors from the Vatican's Bambino Gesu Children's Hospital initially said the medical treatment, nucleoside therapy, might help Charlie, according to the Associated Press. But Great Ormond Street said the idea had done nothing more than give Charlie's parents false hope that their son could recover.
It was decided earlier this week that Charlie's parents should let him go, when it became clear that the experimental treatment they wanted for their son was not possible.
After further medical tests, Chris Gard told reporters, "we've decided it is no longer in Charlie's best interest to pursue treatment, and we will let our son go and be with the angels."
"Had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy," Gard added. "We will have to live with the what-ifs that will haunt us for the rest of our lives."
A spokesman for Great Ormond Street said in a statement Friday, "Everyone at Great Ormond Street Hospital sends their heartfelt condolences to Charlie's parents and loved-ones at this very sad time."(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)