Judge orders hospital to remove Alfie Evans’ life support
LONDON, April 11, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Alfie Evans will be removed from life support, a judge ruled today.
Mr. Justice Hayden of the Royal Courts of Justice in London has set a time and date for the withdrawal of life support from the 23-month old infant, but the information will not be made public.
“Alfie Evans has lived most of his short life in the public domain,” said the judge.
“On February 20 I gave a conclusion after six days of evidence after which Mr Evans cross examined doctors with conspicuous skill and manifest sincerity.”
“But I came to the conclusion at the end of that hearing that Alfie’s brain had been so corrupted by mitochondrial disease that his life was futile.”
Hayden indicated that he was of the same opinion today.
The judge acknowledged that Alfie is “a much loved little boy” and that Alfie’s parents had not accepted Hayden’s initial judgement, instead pursuing the case to the English court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, and the European Court of Human Rights.
“[Mr Evans] told me he would leave no stone unturned, and he was indeed true to his word,” said Hayden.
Alfie’s parents fought Alder Hey through the English court system, and eventually to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR ruled against them last month, stating that their request to take Alfie abroad was “inadmissible,” and that Alder Hey was not violating his rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Alfie’s parents cited multiple signs of life they say Alder Hey never properly acknowledged. "Does our son look in any of these pictures like he is dying," Tom Evans asked in a Facebook post along with photos of his son. "None of these are seizure or reflexes, he is clearly there alive."
"We are in bits distraught in pain. He looks into our eyes every day. He responds to us every day. Alfie James Evans, we love you so so so much. We will do everything we can," his father wrote.
Video taken by Alfie’s parents shows the child “very much alive,” reacting to stimuli such as lights and his father's voice, displaying a variety of activity including yawning and stretching, and most recently taking breaths on his own.
Those breaths, Tom Evans believed, were possible because doctors had recently reduced his son’s dosage of the anti-epileptic drug Clobazam from 14.1 mg to 11.8 mg. He also believed that an excessive dosage of that drug for Alfie’s size was partly responsible for Alfie’s difficulty in breathing all along.
With their legal recourse fully depleted, the family appealed to Pope Francis for asylum, and believed they had received a glimmer of hope last week when the hospital agreed to put off removing the ventilator and review alternative care options, including the viability of flying Alfie to Italy. However, hours later Alfie’s mother announced that Alder Hey went “behind our backs” and sought permission from a judge to end the life support.
Today Mr. Justice Hayden said that his judgement represented “a consensus of medical expertise” and that Alfie’s brain had been almost entirely “eroded” by then.
“By the time I came to conclude the case, the terrible reality is that almost the entirety of Alfie’s brain had been eroded, leaving only water and spinal fluid,” he stated. “Even at the end of February the connective pathways within the brain had been obliterated. They were not longer even identifiable.”
Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where Alfie is on life-support, has issued a statement.
“Today the High Court has set a date and time for when life support for Alfie Evans should be withdrawn. We understand this is a difficult time for Alfie’s family and we would ask that their privacy is respected. The Trust will not be issuing any further comment at this point.”
The hospital has maintained that the infant has a “catastrophic and untreatable neurodegenerative condition” that would be “futile” to continue treating. It has wanted to remove Alfie’s life support since last summer, but parents Tom Evans and Kate James resisted. They sought authorization to take him to Rome’s Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital, which has offered to provide him with palliative care.
The Liverpool Echo, which live-blogged today’s proceedings, today described Alfie’s parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, as “devastated.”