Alfie Evans: Decision to remove life support upheld by judge


Alfie in hospitalImage copyright
Family/Alfie’s Army

Image caption

Alfie is in a “semi-vegetative state” and has a mystery illness

The parents of a seriously ill toddler have lost their appeal against a High Court decision to end his life support.

A judge ruled last month that doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool can stop treating 21-month-old Alfie Evans against the wishes of his parents Kate James and Tom Evans.

They want to take him abroad for treatment for his mystery illness but doctors said it would be “futile”.

Judges at London’s Court of Appeal said they could appeal at the Supreme Court.

Alfie’s parents, from Bootle, Merseyside, were not at the hearing in London but Mr Evans said afterwards he would challenge the decision at the Supreme Court.

He said: “Some people might think why didn’t they just end it there?

“But how can you end it when you’ve got a two-year-old boy who’s fighting as hard as you could ever picture him.

“At this moment, Alfie’s not ready so we’re not ready to let go.”

Alfie is in a “semi-vegetative state” and has an undiagnosed degenerative neurological condition.

Image copyright
PA

Image caption

Tom Evans and Kate James want to take Alfie abroad for treatment

Announcing the decision at the Court of Appeal, Mrs Justice King said Alfie’s parents were “unable to accept what movements in Alfie they see are not positive responses”.

Medical evidence showed that Alfie was “deeply comatose” and “to all intents and purposes unaware of his surroundings”, she said.

‘No clear plan’

Mrs Justice King said Alfie’s father wanted to move him to a hospital in Rome then, if necessary, to a hospital in Munich.

She added he was passionate and wanted to “fight on with Alfie’s Army” but she said he had “no clear plan”.

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital said in a statement: “Today the Court of Appeal upheld the judgement from the High Court that continued active treatment is not in Alfie’s best interest.

“We understand that this is a very difficult time for Alfie’s family and we will continue to work with them to agree the most appropriate palliative care plan for Alfie.”

Mr Justice Anthony Hayden said following a hearing at Liverpool Civil and Family Court he accepted medical evidence that showed further treatment was “futile” and gave doctors permission to provide palliative care only for Alfie.

The hospital was set to withdraw ventilation on 23 February before his parents challenged the decision.

Image copyright
Alfies Army Official/PA

Image caption

Alfie’s parents want to take him to a hospital in Rome

Mrs Justice King said Mr Justice Hayden had considered all evidence presented to him and he “could not have done more to ensure father and mother had every opportunity to express their views and have them taken into consideration”.

She said his approach had been gentle and he could not have given the couple greater respect.

But she said the best interests of the child had to prevail.

She added he had been “meticulous and thorough” and had weighed all arguments raised.

‘Death penalty’

Barrister Stephen Knafler QC, who is leading Alfie’s parents’ legal team, had said “the state” had wrongly interfered with “parental choice”.

He said Alfie’s parents wanted to move him to the Vatican-linked Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital in Rome but Mr Justice Hayden’s ruling had prevented them from doing that.

Alfie’s parents have until 16:00 GMT on Thursday to put a formal request to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision.

An appeal by the parents of Isaiah Haastrup – a severely disabled boy at the centre of a life-support treatment dispute in London – has been dismissed at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.



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