Alfie Evans: parents' legal battle to keep son on life support

25 April 2018, 09:32 | Robert Harris

Parents of Alfie Evans lose bid to take son to Italy

John Stillwell  PA via AP

Following a lengthy legal battle between his parents Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, and Alder Hey Hospital, his life-support was withdrawn last night.

But Alfie's doctors say he can not be healed, and shouldn't make the trip at all.

Alfie is in a semi-vegetative state after suffering with a rare degenerative neurological condition.

Alfie's parents were predictably thrilled. Others shared their support on social media.

Why are the parents challenging the doctors?

This is the latest in a number of court battles between the parents and the hospital, which say it is in the child's best interests to withdraw life support as his brain condition, which has never been diagnosed, can not be treated. The hospital has links to the Vatican and the Pope has publicly supported them.

Tom Evans attends the weekly general audience of Pope Francis on St Peter's square on April 18, 2018 in the Vatican.

He told the court they feared that in the "worst case" they would try to take Alfie overseas.

His case was taken back to the High Court today.

The hospital argued that keeping Evans on a ventilator was "not in his best interests", and treatment was "futile" as well as "unkind and inhumane".

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At Tuesday's emergency court hearing in Manchester, the judge asked whether there might be "other options" that involved Alfie's parents taking their son home.

And Italy's Healthcare Chief has slammed the decisions by United Kingdom courts to treat Alfie the way that they have.

But Mr Justice Hayden cut down Paul Diamond, representing the parents, as he began the family's appeal hearing. This was rejected for a second time by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. They brought the child to a hospital in the Czech Republic that was renowned for its proton beam treatment unavailable under the United Kingdom's National Health Service.

Italy on Monday granted Alfie citizenship in hopes that doing so would facilitate his "immediate" transfer to Rome, the Italian Foreign Ministry said. However this was dismissed by Mr Justice Hayden who says he is British and "falls therefore under the jurisdiction of the High Court". Francis has made appeals for the boy to be kept alive, saying only God can decide who dies.

Whilst it's generally agreed that parents are allowed to determine what happens to their children there are limits.

The child's life support has been switched off since 9:17 p.m. local time Monday, in accordance with court approved plans to end his assisted breathing treatment.

First, it was a parental rights case. A public body can disagree with these choices and can go to court in order to override this parental responsibility.

But in extreme cases like this where the question is around withdrawing treatment there are no clear statutory tests. Has anyone got contacts at Anfield to be able to sort something?

Pope Francis again expressed support for the boy's parents tweeting on Monday evening: "Moved by the prayers and huge 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".

Charlie passed away after being moved from GOSH to an unnamed hospice where life support was withdrawn on the 28th July. Take, for example, the story of five-year-old Ashya King, whose parents were jailed for "abducting" him in 2014 from a British hospital to take him for cancer treatment elsewhere in Europe.

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