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MANCHESTER, April 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – UK toddler Alfie Evans may not fly to a hospital in Rome for treatment, a UK judge ruled this afternoon.
Parents Tom and Kate have now lost their legal challenge to remove their son from Alder Hey hospital and fly him to a hospital run by the Vatican in Rome. The judge, Mr Justice Hayden, called his ruling the “final chapter in the case of this extraordinary little boy.”
The judge indicated that it might be possible for Alfie to receive care at home “for his final days or hours.”
For the time being, Alfie remains at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool. Doctors removed his ventilator just after 9:00 yesterday evening. Instead of dying, the baby started to breathe on his own. He was eventually given oxygen as well as hydration. Parents Tom and Kate would like to take their son to a hospital in Italy, but the hospital has refused to comply with their wishes.
It remains unclear how many days Alfie may be expected to live. So far, he has defied expectations of the medical profession.
During the hearing, Mr Justice Hayden criticized Alfie’s parents’ friends, saying they had been giving the young couple false hope. “It’s profoundly depressing to say the least,” he said. He called one of their entourage a “fanatical and deluded young man.”
The judge also “slapped down” Paul Diamond, the family’s lawyer, “for highly-charged language” Hayden called “ridiculous emotive nonsense,” according to Josh Halliday of the Guardian.
An Alder Hey doctor told the court of colleagues’ “genuine fear” in the “hostile atmosphere” around the hospital. She claimed it was “heartbreaking we’re here again arguing when all we want to do is the best for Alfie’s family.”
But a friend close to the family tweeted that such a comment lost sight of what is really at stake in the case, namely, Alfie’s life.
“Translation: Heartbreaking that his parents are pleading for his life when we’ve tried to end it and not been successful. Remember what Alder Hey consider the best for this family is: the death of their son,” tweeted Caroline Farrow.
A member of staff, appearing in scrubs, said that moving patients home “does not happen overnight” and only after extensive consideration and discussion.
Alfie’s parents, Thomas Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, have fought tirelessly for Alfie to receive treatment from a hospital other than Alder Hey, first in the British courts system, then before the European Court of Human Rights, which finally ruled against their desire to have Alfie treated in Italy.
After Hayden set a date for Alfie to be removed from life-support, the couple began another battle, arguing that their parental rights were being violated and that Alfie was being unlawfully detained. The parents were defeated in the UK Court of Appeal, denied a hearing by the UK Supreme Court and then denied a hearing by the European Commission.
Despite the support of Pope Francis for Alfie and his parents, and the eleventh-hour gift of Italian citizenship upon Alfie by the Italian government, Hayden ruled last night that Alfie’s life support should be removed.
But then Alfie began to breathe on his own. He has now survived without a ventilator since 9:17 BST (British Summer Time) last night. After his parents’ entreaties, the hospital allowed the child oxygen and water. It remains unclear if he is receiving adequate nutrition and hydration.
An emergency appeal was made today to the Family Division of the High Court in Manchester to allow medical experts in Italy to examine Alfie. The Bambino Gesù has been willing and prepared for weeks to receive Alfie, and yesterday morning its president was present at Alder Hey, hoping to speak to Alfie’s English doctors. She was not, however, permitted a meeting.
The hearing today began after 4 PM. Paul Diamond, the lawyer for Alfie’s parents, argued that it could not be in the infant’s interests to be left to die at Alder Hey, and that he should be allowed to travel to Italy.
As the court hearing was in session, a helicopter was waiting in vain near Alder Hey hospital to remove Alfie to a health care facility chosen by the parents.