Alfie Evans: Decision to remove life support upheld by judge

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 agreed with the High Court ruling.

Alfie’s parents, from Bootle, Merseyside, were not at the appeal hearing in London but listened via a telephone link.

Their son 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 added Alfie’s father wanted to move him to a hospital in Rome then, if necessary, to a hospital in Munich.

She said 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 has argued continuing to treat Alfie was “unkind, unfair and inhumane”.

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.

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.

Lawyers said Alfie’s parents might consider asking the Supreme Court to review the case.

Mr Evans said after the High Court ruling last month he “wasn’t giving up” and “no-one in this country is taking my boy away from me”.

He said: “My son is two years of age and he is being sentenced to the death penalty.”

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