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Alfie Evans, Terminally Ill Boy at Center of Court Fight, Dies

2018-04-28 13:59
Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old British toddler whose parents struggle with hospital authorities has drawn international attention, has died. Family members broke the news that Alfie passed away early on Saturday, April 28, with his father Tom Evans saying he was “absolutely heartbroken.” "My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30 absolutely heartbroken," the boy's father Tom Evans wrote on Facebook. Alfie had a rare, degenerative disease and had been in a semi-vegetative state for more than a year. After a series of court cases, doctors at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool removed his life support on Monday, April 23, against his parents’ wishes. “This evening the High Court again ruled that it is in Alfie’s best interests to continue with the end of life care plan developed by the clinical team who have cared for him throughout,” reads a statement published by the hospital on April 24. In an earlier statement published on April 12, Alfie's mother Kate James  wrote, “How sad is it that someone can tell you where and when your child is going to die?" "I know the date and time my child is going to die and we haven’t even had time as a family to come to terms with this.”  After his life support was switched off, however, Alfie confounded expectations by continuing to breathe unaided for days. Explaining the decision to discontinue treatment, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health undersigned a statement issued by the institution.  “The Alfie Evans case is extremely difficult for all involved; heartbreaking for his parents and emotionally challenging for the doctors and nurses involved in treating and caring for him,” Viner wrote. He said that while no comment could be made on the specifics of the case, citing patient confidentiality, a “clear and compassionate framework” to guide such decisions was applied in Alfie's case. Viner added that, in general, withdrawing life-sustaining treatment may be decided upon if treatment is “unable or unlikely to result in the child living much longer” or “where treatment may prolong life but will cause the child unacceptable pain and suffering.” Alfie’s parents wanted to take him to Rome, where the Vatican's Bambino Gesu hospital had offered to care for him. A British court rejected an appeal by the parents on Wednesday to take their son to Italy. The case has stirred up the issue of whether judges, doctors or parents have the right to decide on a child's life. Alfie's parents have been backed by Pope Francis and Poland's President Andrzej Duda. "I wish to repeat and strongly confirm that the only master of life from the beginning until the natural end is God. It is our duty, it is our duty to do everything to care for life," Pope Francis said. Alfie died in the early hours of Saturday, his parents said. "Our baby boy grew his wings tonight ... Thank you everyone for all your support," his mother Kate James wrote. Prior to Alfie’s passing, his father thanked everyone for their support and requested privacy to facilitate reconciliation with the hospital authorities. “We would now ask you all to return back to your everyday lives and allow myself, Kate and Alder Hey to form a relationship, build a bridge and walk across it. We also wish to thank Alder Hey staff at every level of their dignity and professionalism during what must have been an incredibly difficult time for them too.”