A British judge rejected a desperate family’s plea to transport their ill child to Italy for treatment, telling the parents of 23-month-old Alfie Evans that his Tuesday ruling “represents the final chapter in the life of this extraordinary little boy.”
Evans’ parents, Tom and Kate Evans, have fought long and hard for many months to prevent his life support from being turned off, and even Pope Francis and Italian authorities intervened to help the toddler with a degenerative neurological condition. The parents sought to bring Evans to the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital for treatment, but the current hospital refused to grant the transfer.
Tom Evans has refused to stop fighting for his boy, telling the media, “Alfie’s still fighting, so I’m still fighting.”
Evans claims hospital staff haven’t allowed the boy to eat any food in almost 24 hours, and he’s worried they’ll starve the child. He says the hospital claims it would take three days to discharge the boy.
Before Tuesday’s emergency ruling, the U.K. Supreme Court had ruled that the child should remain at the hospital. The family’s appeal was rejected as “inadmissible” by the European Court of Human Rights.
While medical professionals have been unable to identify Evans’ exact brain condition, they said he remains in a “semi-vegetative state.” Evans is currently at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, and several court rulings have blocked the parents from moving their child.
The baby’s father, Tom Evans, said Tuesday that his child had survived for six hours without assistance. The family lawyer said the toddler is doing “significantly better” than expected. But doctors at the hospital insist he has no chance of improving.
During an emergency court hearing Tuesday, the judge asked Evans’ parents if they might consider “other options,” such as taking the boy home.
Meanwhile, protesters calling themselves “Alfie’s Army” rallied for Evans’ life outside the hospital. News reports indicated the crowds had blocked roads and even tried to enter the hospital before police pushed the people back out.
Pope Francis urged authorities to respect the family’s wishes, saying only God may determine who lives and who dies.
On April 18, the pope met with Tom Evans, who is Catholic, in Rome. Evans asked for the pope’s help in saving their son and requested that the Vatican grant “asylum” to his family. After the meeting, Pope Francis called for prayers for the toddler and said it is “our duty to do everything to preserve life.”
On Monday evening, Pope Francis tweeted: “I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.”
Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 23, 2018
The Italian defense ministry had even arranged for an air ambulance to transport Evans to the Vatican hospital if the judge had allowed the family to take their child. The flight was reportedly prepared to depart within minutes of a ruling allowing Evans to leave.
The Italian foreign ministry announced Monday that it had granted little Evans citizenship, which would facilitate the child’s transport and arrival process.
In a Tuesday statement, the Medical Ethics Alliance blasted the British hospital that’s treating Evans, saying “medical tyranny must stop.”
“We are deeply concerned and outraged by the treatment and care offered to Alfie Evans,” the Medical Ethics Alliance said. “Wanting to withdraw treatment so that he will die, the medical authorities have taken Alfie to the High Court. At that point, and as a result of the hospital’s court action, the parents were stripped of their right to be decision-makers for their beloved child. They could only advise the Court and look on as the High Court made decisions for Alfie.
“The High Court decided that it was in the ‘Best Interests’ of Alfie to die and duly authorized the withdrawal of treatment. As a result, the parents are being tortured as they watch the hospital take actions expected to lead to his death.”
In a similar case last July, British baby Charlie Gard died of a genetic disease after the courts blocked the baby’s parents from transporting him to Italy.