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. Like Gard, Evans is believed to have encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, and if Alder Hey Children’s Hospital has its way, Evans will be left to die against the wishes of his parents and advocates across the world, just as Gard was.
British doctors are claiming that Alfie is in a “semi-vegetative state” as a result from a degenerative brain condition that they have not been able to conclusively diagnose.
On Monday, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Great Britain removed Alfie’s ventilator shortly after 9 p.m. The move followed after Evans family lost a lengthy legal battle with the hospital, which has claimed that it was not in the child’s “best interests” to remain on life support.
A video taken by Alfie’s father just prior to the removal of Alfie’s ventilator shows the baby both responsive and alert, blinking, and looking around the room.
Miraculously, however, Evans made it through the night. Alfie’s parents note that doctors were “gobsmacked” to see that Evans had survived for hours without medical support, and the parents once again pled for their son to be put back on life support.
"They say Alfie’s suffering," said Mr. Evans. "Well, look at him now. He’s not even on a ventilator and he’s not suffering.... They left him for six hours without food, water and oxygen.”
Alfie's unbelievable survival prompted a High Court judge to agree to consider further issues in the case, and he granted that Alfie be put back on life support until a decision was reached.
Alfie’s parents were predictably thrilled. His father told the Metro, “I felt blessed when they confirmed they were going to give him his water and his oxygen. He’s now on oxygen. It’s not changing his breathing but it’s oxygenating his body."
Unfortunately, Justice Anthony Hayden has now determined that Evans is not entitled to additional medical care. He claimed that the ruling “represents the final chapter in the life of this extraordinary little boy.”
Alfie’s parents have been fighting to fly their son to a hospital in Rome that has agreed to provide his treatment. The pope has expressed support for the couple, and Alfie has been granted Italian citizenship in the hopes that it would free the family from the deadly grip of the British healthcare system.
Just before Alfie was removed from the ventilator, the Italian Embassy in London warned, “If you remove the ventilator from Alfie Evans, we will file a complaint against you for the murder of an Italian citizen.”
The Christian Legal Centre, which represents Alfie's parents, notes the efforts that the Italian embassy has made to save the child. "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."
Alfie and his family have been supported by Christian charities and a band of supporters known as “Alfie’s Army” that have protested regularly outside of the hospital. According to ABC News, they’ve even attempted to block roads and storm the door of the hospital on Monday before being pushed back by police.
Alfie’s story underscores the lack of medical freedom in Great Britain. An air ambulance waited outside of the hospital to transport Alfie Evans to an Italian hospital to receive treatment, but a group of police were stationed outside of the boy’s room to prevent him from leaving. Both Alfie and his parents are virtually prisoners.
Earlier this month, Alfie’s mother wrote about the ordeal in an emotional Facebook post. “How sad is it that someone can tell you where and when your child is going to die? No proper care plan and no respect for us as a family!” she wrote. “No privacy or nothing! 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.”
And despite the hubris of the British doctors and judges who refuse to concede that they could be wrong about Alfie’s condition, hospitals do not always get it right. Take, for example, the story of five-year-old Ashya King, whose parents were jailed for “abducting” him in 2014 from a British hospital to take him for cancer treatment elsewhere in Europe. They brought the child to a hospital in the Czech Republic that was renowned for its proton beam treatment unavailable under the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. Nearly four years later, King is reported to be cancer-free, LifeSite News reports.
Unfortunately, unlike King, it appears Alfie may not have the happy ending he and his family deserve.
Image: Screenshot from Evans' Facebook page