UK Hospital Delays Plans to Pull the Plug for Sick Toddler

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by Alexander Slavsky  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 5, 2018   

Comes after UK High Court ruled hospital can turn off life support

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LIVERPOOL, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - A sick British infant is getting another chance at life after the hospital suspended the death sentence from last month.

Tom Evans and Kate James, parents of Alfie Evans, the 22-month child with a rare degenerative neurological condition, were told Thursday that Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, England, will not take Alfie off life support this Friday as scheduled.

Steven Woolfe, a member of the European Parliament, said the hospital insisted that there will be a number of meetings in the coming days to "consider the alternative options we presented."

In a statement Thursday to Radio City News, Woolfe insisted that the hospital is also reviewing whether Alfie can travel to Italy for future treatment.

This comes less than a day after Pope Francis tweeted his support for Alfie Evans: "It is my sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard. I am praying for Alfie, for his family and for all who are involved," he said in a tweet.

Tom Evans asked the Holy Father to grant asylum for Alfie, which the Pope received on March 28. "I am asking the pope to help us. I beg him again, we need to be taken into the Vatican. Here, Alfie has no escape: he will not be accompanied but killed," Evans remarked.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled March 28 that the hospital could withdraw life support after Alfie's parents appealed the High Court in Liverpool ruling from February. The ECHR ruling has been upheld by the court of appeal judges and Supreme Court justices.

Yesterday, me, my brother Daniel and sister Rachael witnessed Alfie do seven breaths out of the blue on his own.

"The European Court of Human Rights has today declared the application Evans v. the United Kingdom (application no. 14238/18) inadmissible, finding that there was no appearance of a violation of the rights and freedoms set out in the European Convention on Human Rights," said a spokesman for the ECHR.

The ECHR ruling continued, "The court has also rejected a request for an interim measure made by the applicants under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court to stay the order of the domestic courts permitting the withdrawal of Alfie Evans's treatment." The intermit measure was received by the Court on March 23, and the parties in the case have been informed of the court's ruling.

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Alfie's parents, Kate James and Tom Evans

Evans and James petitioned the High Court in Liverpool to move Alfie to Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome for treatment, but Justice Anthony Hayden prevented the couple from doing so, ruling in February that Alfie's life support should be turned off. A British appeals court also upheld the February ruling, allowing the sick toddler to die.

Britain's Highest Court said that Alfie should only receive palliative care, but his parents wanted the Rome hospital to provide the toddler with two surgical procedures — a breathing tube into his throat and a feeding tube into his stomach — both of which were suggested.

Alder Hey Children's Hospital released a statement following the ECHR ruling:

This signals the end of a very difficult and protracted legal process. We understand that this decision is very distressing for Alfie's family. Our priority is now to work with them to agree the most appropriate palliative care plan, and we would ask that their privacy is respected at this time.

Tom Evans released a statement on Wednesday, acknowledging his son's improvement prior to the extension of life support: "Yesterday, me, my brother Daniel and sister Rachael witnessed Alfie do seven breaths out of the blue on his own. We are begging the hospital to continue this process to give us and Alfie the chance to see if he wakes up or improves."

Last year, the pope expressed his support for Charlie Gard, a sick 11-month-old baby who died in July after his parents dropped their court battle and life support was removed.

 

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