Parents Mount Last Ditch Effort to Save Their Baby Son

By Patrick Goodenough | April 25, 2018 | 4:24 AM EDT

In a photo posted on a Facebook campaign page, Kate James holds her little boy. (Photo: Facebook/Save Alfie Evans)

( – With time running out, the parents of seriously ill British toddler Alfie Evans are trying one more time Wednesday to get a court to overturn a ruling preventing them from taking him to Italy for treatment.

According to the BBC, the case is scheduled to be heard at the Court of Appeal in London on Wednesday afternoon. The 23-month-old’s father, Tom Evans, told reporters outside Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital on Tuesday the court has set aside three judges to hear the case.

“I’m not giving up because Alfie’s braving away. He’s not suffering, he’s not struggling,” he said. “There’s been no drugs given to him. The nurse has just come in and said he looks really good.”

Previous court decisions have gone against Evans and Alfie’s mother, Kate James, accepting medical authorities’ contention that continuing treatment for their son, who has a rare neurodegenerative disorder, would be futile.

On Monday, Liverpool’s Alder Hey hospital withdrew life support for Alfie in line with a court ruling.

But, defying doctors’ expectations, the child continued to breathe unaided, and on Tuesday, the High Court family division in Manchester was asked again to allow the couple to take Alfie to Rome, where they want him to receive care at the Bambino Gesù (Baby Jesus) Pediatric Hospital.

The judge ruled against them, however, rejecting the family lawyer’s argument that, since Alfie had been breathing without assistance for almost 24 hours by that time, his condition was “significantly better” that was first thought.

“The sad truth is that it is not,” said Judge Anthony Hayden on Tuesday evening. “With little, indeed no hesitation, I reject that.”

“The brain cannot regenerate itself and there is virtually nothing of his brain left,” he said.

In a statement after Hayden’s ruling, the Alder Hey hospital said the court had “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.”

“Our top priority therefore remains in ensuring Alfie receives the care he deserves to ensure his comfort, dignity and privacy are maintained throughout. This includes working closely with Kate and Tom as they spend this precious time together with him,” it said.

“We would be grateful if respect and consideration is shown to all our staff, patients and families at the hospital at this difficult time.”

On Monday, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and Interior Minister Marco Minniti granted Alfie Italian citizenship.

“The Italian government hopes that this will enable the child to be immediately transferred to Italy as an Italian citizen,” they said in a statement.

Pope Francis again expressed his support for the family, tweeting Tuesday “Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.”

Roger Kiska, an attorney with the group Christian Concern, which is representing Alfie and his parents, told BBC radio on Tuesday Alfie was “a miracle, literally and figuratively,” and noted that the removal of oxygen on Monday night had not ended his life.

“First, the hospital said that pneumonia would end his life; it didn’t. They suggested that removing ventilation would end his life; it didn’t. And so the hospital in its testimony isn’t infallible,” he said.

“And we simply want – Tom and Kate want – to bring Alfie abroad to get a fresh pair of eyes and new treatment at a hospital that is wanting to treat – wanting to find out what’s wrong with him.”

Kiska said the Italian Embassy has confirmed that it was ready to provide medical transportation to Rome “immediately.”

“To suggest that it’s in his best interests to either suffocate to death or starve to death in a hospital in Liverpool, I think begs the question of what really is in his best interests,” he said. “He’s clearly still fighting. He wants to live.”

Last summer another seriously ill British infant, Charlie Gard, died just days before his first birthday, after a long legal battle by his parents failed to secure him the right to receive experimental treatment in the U.S.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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