By Judie Brown
Charlie Gard was eleven months old when his life was snuffed out because of a court ruling deeming it advisable to deny this beautiful little boy the ability to breathe with the use of a ventilator.
Charlie’s life was cut short for all the wrong reasons. His case reminds me of the eloquent words of eminent geneticist Dr. Jerome Lejeune, who described a human being’s development from the earliest single cell stages as a “symphony” that is played out on the ribbons of life contained within every human being’s DNA. From the very first note, an individual’s life is orchestrated by nature and plays out like an opus if it is not cut short by an inhumane act of man.
Charlie’s life, however brief it might have been, was shortened by an act of judicial arrogance supported by a medical profession intent on playing God in the nursery. According to the court, “It is not in Charlie’s best interests for artificial ventilation to continue to be provided to him, and it is therefore lawful and in his best interests for it to be withdrawn.”
But the truth is that the ventilator would not have worked if Charlie’s lungs and breathing muscles had not been functioning. A medical explanation of why this is so will help readers understand that Charlie did not have to die in a hospice without the ventilator he needed to help him breathe. Doctor Paul Byrne, MD, an expert on such questions, explained:
A ventilator pushes air with oxygen into Charlie. Yes, this mechanical movement of gases is necessary for Charlie but that is all that the ventilator does. Charlie's lungs, heart and circulation do the rest. They function to absorb the oxygen, circulate blood with oxygen to all of Charlie's organs, tissues and cells. The blood picks up the waste product, carbon dioxide, and delivers it to Charlie's lungs. The ventilator does not and cannot make the body "respire" i.e., exchange the oxygen and carbon dioxide for the organs, tissues and cells. For carbon dioxide to get out, Charlie's lungs and breathing muscles must first have the ventilator push the air in. Then Charlie's lungs and breathing muscles can function effectively to allow movement of the air with carbon dioxide to go out of Charlie. The ventilator does not exhale. The ventilator does not respire. The ventilator does not make the heart beat. It is in the living Charlie that these things occur. The ventilator simply moves the air into the person who needs help or cannot do this movement on their own.
This court order was a death sentence for Charlie and he died one week before his first birthday. His grief-stricken parents should have been planning his first birthday party instead of his funeral.
Writing about how parents can explain Charlie’s case to teenagers who may have questions, Mary Kizior, program developer for American Life League’s Culture of Life Studies Program, wrote:
Charlie’s story provides an excellent opportunity to talk with your teens about end-of-life care for patients who are terminally ill. In his short life, Charlie Gard touched the hearts of millions of people around the world. Had he been allowed to live, he could have touched even more people. The court robbed Charlie of his life and countless other people of the chance to love him and learn from him. His story, like so many others, is important because it shows us how low our civilization has gone when we murder the weakest and most vulnerable people among us.
Let us never forget Charlie and how the symphony of his life was cut short by those who deemed his life unworthy to live. Educate yourself and others by learning more about the evil of euthanasia. Then keep this conversation going. The vulnerable are at risk; be their voices.