Published: Wed, April 25, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Alfie Evans parents can not take sick toddler to Italy

Alfie Evans parents can not take sick toddler to Italy

The fight to save the life of 23-month-old Alfie Evans in England closely mirrors that of Charlie Gard, the 11-month-old who died after being removed from life support after Gard's parent's endured hellish legal battles with a London Children's hospital and multiple courts.

A High Court judge earlier made the devastating call to reject a last-ditch attempt to take Alfie overseas - but asked doctors if it is possible to consider letting the 23-month-old tot go home. According to his father, doctors eventually gave Alfie water and supplemental oxygen, but the child has not been given nutrition for almost a day. He has been hospitalized since December of 2016.

The Supreme Court justices refused permission to mount another appeal and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) also declined the case.

He has not been definitively diagnosed, but his doctors think he suffers from a rare and incurable degenerative neurological condition. Evans is now at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, and several court rulings have blocked the parents from moving their child.

Earlier on Tuesday Mr Evans, speaking outside Alder Hey, said doctors were "gobsmacked" that his son was breathing nine hours after his life support ended. The family lawyer said the toddler is doing "significantly better" than expected.

At the end of a highly charged three-hour hearing, the judge ordered Alfie's parents to engage with doctors and create a palliative care plan that could involve moving him off the paediatric intensive care unit where he has spent the past 16 months of his life.

The little boy's case has become a subject of fierce concern for some Catholic and other Christian activists, who have protested outside the hospital in Liverpool where the boy is being treated. News reports indicated the crowds had blocked roads and even tried to enter the hospital before police pushed the people back out. Francis has made appeals for the boy to be kept alive, saying only God can decide who dies.

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But, Mr Justice Hayden ruled last night that Alfie can not be removed from Alder Hey Children's Hospital pending the hearing before a Court of Appeal decision on Monday.

Rome's Vatican-owned pediatric hospital Bambino Gesù has offered to treat the 23-month-old boy. After a decision by Italy yesterday, Alfie now has Italian citizenship which should qualify him for being able to leave the country.

When it comes to medical treatment of children British law tends to favour doctors' decisions with regard to life-saving treatment over the rights of parents.

Hayden said Alfie was "a fighter, resilient, courageous and a warrior" and that "in the last 24 hours, he has proved himself once again to be worthy of all those descriptions". Charlie's parents believe had they been allowed to take him to the U.S. for treatment earlier he could have had a normal life.

"Every action and decision is taken in the best interests of the child", he said.

He said: "I'm not giving up because Alfie is breathing away".

In a statement, the medical association representing Alfie's doctors called his case "heartbreaking for his parents and emotionally challenging for the doctors and nurses involved in treating and caring for him". "The Italian ambassador has urgently contacted the court with a request for the Italian government to be allowed to intervene in the case and seek the return of their citizen Alfie Evans to Italy".

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