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Update April 25, 9:05 PM EST: This story has been updated with a comment from American Catholic Canon Lawyer Edward Peters.
LIVERPOOL, England, April 25, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.K. hospital holding 23-month-old Alfie Evans has issued an open letter addressing the criticism and protests it has received throughout the case.
In the statement released this evening, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital declared that it will “maintain our focus on safeguarding Alfie's comfort, dignity and privacy, which remains our first priority.”
The letter, signed by Alder Hey chairman Sir David Henshaw and chief executive Louise Shepherd, does not list the preservation of Alfie’s life as a priority, nor do the words “life,” “live,” “save,” or “heal” appear anywhere in it.
“[W]e share the heartbreak that occurs when a child cannot be cured and when a child dies,” it reads, suggesting Alfie’s still-undiagnosed condition is irreversible.
American Catholic Canon lawyer Edward Peters slammed the letter on twitter, calling it propaganda for “child murder.”
That April 24 statement from Alder Hey “Hospital” on little Alfie, it deserves the 2018 Josef Goebbels Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Propaganda, for its making child murder sound like kindness.
— Edward Peters (@canonlaw) April 25, 2018
The letter comes on the heels of an appeals court ruling that Alfie must not travel to Rome for treatment but stay in the children's hospital. The toddler was removed from his ventilator on April 23 just after 9:00 PM. Alfie defied everyone’s expectations by breathing on his own. Parents Tom and Kate have fought every step of the way since this time to secure oxygen, water, and food for their son. The toddlers’ doctors say that Alfie has an undiagnosed neurological condition that has resulted in serious and irreparable brain damage.
The Hospital claimed in the letter to “work closely with parents and families in these difficult and distressing circumstances to provide support and comfort in a way that is sensitive to their needs.” They say that other families have reached out to vouch that Alder Hey “will always try to do our best for children.”
The letter does not, however, explain Alder Hey’s refusal to let Alfie be taken to Italy by doctors who have offered to take over his care.
Throughout the letter, the Alder Hey administrators cite Justice Anthony Hayden’s endorsement of their hospital. Hayden, who has rejected numerous appeals from Alfie’s parents, is also a member of the Bar Lesbian and Gay Group (BLAGG), and ruled last fall that it would be in the “best interests” of a “minimally conscious” woman to starve her to death.
Henshaw and Shepherd complain that media attention on the case has led to “many untrue statements about our work and the motivations of our staff,” but they do not address any specific allegations. Alfie’s father Tom Evans has accused Alder Hey of abusing and neglecting his son in multiple ways, including a doctor adjusting his drugs without permission, a nurse falling asleep next to him, allowing one of his lungs to collapse, and leaving him in “squalid conditions” with “moldy tubes.”
Instead, they focus on “highly abusive and threatening language and behaviour” supposedly directed at staff and other patients by Alfie’s supporters. Tom Evans has previously denied this allegation, noting that no police charges had been filed against Alfie’s supporters.
The full letter is published below.
Open Letter from Sir David Henshaw and Louise Shepherd CBE
25th April 2018
Alfie Evans has deeply affected us all at Alder Hey. There isn’t one member of our staff untouched by his desperate story, the facts of the case and the publicity surrounding it. All of us feel deeply for Alfie and his whole family and we continue to do everything we can to support them as best we can, just as we have for the last 17 months.
Yet in the last two weeks we have found ourselves at the centre of a social media storm that has included many untrue statements about our work and the motivations of our staff. This has led to often inappropriate interventions from a range of external bodies and individuals, some of which have caused significant disruption to our children, families and staff.
As a leading children’s healthcare provider, described by Justice Hayden, who heard the detailed evidence in Alfie’s case, as providing care that ‘can only be properly characterised as world class’, we share the heartbreak that occurs when a child cannot be cured and when a child dies. Our expert professional and compassionate clinical teams always work closely with parents and families in these difficult and distressing circumstances to provide support and comfort in a way that is sensitive to their needs.
Our nursing, medical and support staff come into work each day at Alder Hey determined to do the best for our patients and those who care for them. Justice Hayden has also commented upon the ‘diligent professionalism of some truly remarkable doctors and the warm and compassionate energy of the nurses whose concern and compassion is almost tangible’. Unfortunately, these same remarkable staff have recently been the target of unprecedented personal abuse that has been hard to bear.
As an organisation, we have endured attacks upon our motivation, our professionalism and our ethics. It has been a very difficult time. Having to carry on our usual day to day work in a hospital that has required a significant police presence just to keep our patients, staff and visitors safe is completely unacceptable. Our staff have received in person, via phone calls, email, and through social media channels a barrage of highly abusive and threatening language and behaviour that has shocked us all. Worse still, patients and visitors to Alder Hey have also reported abuse. We are truly grateful to Merseyside Police for their unstinting support. This has helped us maintain our focus on safeguarding Alfie’s comfort, dignity and privacy, which remains our first priority.
We have also been sustained by the huge warmth and support we have received from across Liverpool and beyond. Many, many families in Liverpool and the wider region have shared with us just how much they have been touched personally by the care they have received from Alder Hey. Their stories have reassured us that the vast majority of people would agree with Justice Hayden, that the care that we provide, day in day out, is truly outstanding. They know that we will always try to do our best for children. We hope that the special work of Alder Hey, and the special people who do it, will continue to be supported at this difficult time.
For that and on behalf of us all at Alder Hey we wish to express our sincere thanks.
Sir David Henshaw Louise Shepherd CBE
Chairman Chief Executive