CHARLIE Gard's parents today revealed they will leave an empty chair for their son as they celebrate Christmas with their new baby.
Chris Gard and Connie Yates welcomed baby Oliver just 19 weeks ago – three years after the death of their little boy Charlie.
Eleven-month-old Charlie tragically died in July 2017 after a long fight against the rare disease called mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.
His parents, from Bedfont, West London, made headlines across the world as they fought for permission to take him to the US for medical treatment but he was ultimately taken off life support and died just shy of his first birthday.
Despite the heartache, the couple were given a ray of hope when they welcomed another son Oliver together earlier this year – and are now looking forward to celebrating Christmas with their little family.
But they said Charlie would not be forgotten.
Speaking to The Mirror, mum Connie, 34, today said: “For Christmas and birthdays we always leave a chair at the table for Charlie and we raise a toast to him.”
And Chris, 35, said they wouldn't take anything for granted this festive season either.
He said: "We treasure every precious milestone, because we didn’t get to do that with Charlie – he went into hospital when he was just eight weeks old."
The dad added: “Charlie is in our thoughts every single day, his picture is all over our home. With grief, there are good days and bad days – the emotions come in waves."
And despite admitting they were tired from raising their newborn son, they were keen to add to their family "when Oliver is sleeping more".
Dad Chris said they would love to have a girl – but added: "There is a one in four chance of it [a baby having the syndrome] happening again. But we won’t rule it out. So it’s not a decision we would take lightly."
Charlie Gard’s story
Little Charlie’s plight touched the world after he was born suffering from the extremely rare genetic condition that causes progressive brain damage and muscle weakness, with both Connie and Chris unknowingly carrying the gene.
Born in 2016 with mitochondrial disease, Charlie was taken to hospital just weeks later for treatment.
It was at Great Ormond Street Hospital that doctors said Charlie should be allowed to die with dignity and applied for permission to have his ventilator switched off.
But his parents refused – facing a painful and public legal battle against the hospital to keep him on life support.
The couple fought determinedly against this decision – raising more than £1.3million to pay for pioneering treatment in the US.
Charlie's plight saw interventions from the Pope and US President Donald Trump, but the baby's life support was turned off just before his first birthday.
The couple had previously announced the exciting news that Connie was pregnant again, gushing they had a "lot of love to give".
And while they admitted they were nervous little Oliver could have the same syndrome as Charlie, tests revealed he was in the clear.
Speaking at the time, Connie said: "When you have lost a child, it’s hard not to let fear take over – you know the harsh reality of having a child is a hope, not a promise."
She added: "We feel so incredibly lucky that we get the opportunity to welcome another baby boy into our family.
"I was completely overwhelmed to find that everything showed our little boy was doing well and was completely healthy.
"The 3D scan shows all the features of his little face and it’s so gorgeous to see. I fell in love with him even more."
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