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LIVERPOOL, England (ChurchMilitant.com) - A sick British infant and his family are suffering another letdown after the hospital reverses its decision to suspend the death sentence from last month.
Church Militant reported yesterday that Tom Evans and Kate James, parents of Alfie Evans, the 22-month child with a rare degenerative neurological condition, were told Thursday in a meeting with representatives from Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, England, that they will not remove Alfie from life support on Friday as scheduled.
But within a few hours of the meeting, the hospital's lawyers were reaching out to the High Court for a hearing to have Alfie's life support lifted. The hospital released a statement allegedly justifying its decision to return the case to the High Court:
After a long and difficult legal process, the courts have ruled that Alfie's condition is irreversible and untreatable and that continued active treatment is not in his best interests. We always aim to reach agreement with parents about the most appropriate palliative care plan for their child but sadly, in this case, we have not been able to do this. Consequently we must return to the High Court, as we are legally required to do, for guidance about a date on which to withdraw treatment from Alfie.
James blamed the hospital for giving the family "false hope" while expressing her dissatisfaction with Alder Hey in a Facebook post: "They have gone behind our backs ... to remove Alfie's life support as soon as tomorrow, even though in the meeting they agreed to view the evidence and have a meeting over it."
Earlier, Steven Woolfe, a member of the European Parliament, insisted in a tweet that the hospital at the meeting "agreed not to end Alfie's life today and will consider the alternative options we presented, including for Alfie to rec[ei]ve treatment available in Italy."
Just had a meeting at @AlderHey with Alfie's parents @Alfiesarmy16. Hospital agreed not to end Alfie's life today and will consider the alternative options we presented, including for Alfie to recieve treatment available in Italy.— Steven Woolfe MEP (@Steven_Woolfe) April 5, 2018
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 their son's life support should be turned off. A British appeals court also upheld the February ruling, allowing the sick toddler to die.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) upheld the ruling in February on 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.
"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.
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.
On Wednesday, 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."
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.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 4, 2018
Kate James continued in her Facebook post, "On the back of this after the pope's tweet for Alfie, Bambino [G]esu spoken out about Alfie's care and hopefully they will push [Alder Hey] as to have him fly over there."
Alfie's condition remains undiagnosed and the doctor has explained that the problems in the toddler's brain are "unexplained." His opinion was included in Hayden's ruling that the "appearances were not typical for any specific disorder."
Evans and James' son was born healthy in May 2016, but after missing a number of developmental milestones, Alfie's parents knew something was wrong. In December of that year, the infant suffered a chest infection and was hospitalized for seizures. He has remained on life support at Alder Hey ever since.
But Alfie's parents have determined that their son is responsive, and there are a number of videos on Facebook showing Alfie stretching, coughing, breathing on his own and responding to his mother's touch.