LIVERPOOL, England, April 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Alfie Evans died today in a Liverpool children’s hospital at 2:30 a.m. local time.
Despite last-minute interventions, including the Italian government’s gift of citizenship to the infant, the child died four days after doctors at the Alder Hey NHS (National Health Service) Foundation ignored his parents’ wishes and removed him from a ventilator.
His mother Kate James informed well-wishers of the boy’s death by posting a message on the “Alfie’s Army Official” Facebook page.
“Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am,” the young mother wrote. “We are heart broken. Thank you everyone for all your support.”
“My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30… absolutely heartbroken… I LOVE YOU MY GUY,” Thomas Evans said.
Alfie James Evans was a baptized Catholic, like his father. His mother belongs to the Reformed tradition. If a baptized child before the age of reason dies, he goes straight to heaven, according to Catholic teaching.
“Baptized and under ‘the age of reason’, he does not need our prayers,” tweeted Dr Joseph Shaw, a Catholic ethicist at Oxford University. “His family, and everyone else involved, do.”
In a statement issued on its website, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, said: “We wish to express our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Alfie’s family at this extremely distressing time. All of us feel deeply for Alfie, Kate, Tom and his whole family and our thoughts are with them. This has been a devastating journey for them and we would ask that their privacy and the privacy of staff at Alder Hey is respected.”
On Monday, Alfie’s father Thomas Evans posted a video on Facebook saying that when the hospital staff removed Alfie’s ventilator at 9:17 p.m., he was able to breathe on his own. The toddler lived for more than four days without the machine.
In the video, Evans said his son’s fingers were beginning to turn blue and Alfie was losing color.
“Alfie’s sustained his life since 17 minutes past nine,” Thomas Evans said. “He’s needing oxygen but the hospital won’t give him any.”
In the video, he said his son’s fingers were beginning to turn blue and Alfie was losing color. However, after the parents gave the child mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the child began to breathe on his own. Later Alfie was given oxygen.
Alfie’s aunt Sarah Evans posted a message on the “Alfie’s Army Official” Facebook page soon before he died asking supporters for prayers.
“Our warrior is needing prayers and 100 deep breathes sending to Alfie,” she wrote. “Inhale and exhale then do another 100 please. Please pray for our warrior.”
Alfie would have turned two on May 9th. A video taken of him on the day of his court-ordered death showed the toddler looking around the room, responsive and alert.
It is a tragic ending to a sad story that began shortly after Alfie was born to his then-teenage parents. In July 2016, he was referred to hospital for a “divergent squint” (one eye turning outwards). By the time he was four months old, his mother noticed other troubling signs. Alfie’s smile had become less frequent, he was sleeping too much, and he showed little interest in interactions and playing with toys. By six months, he showed signs of significant developmental delay. An MRI showed that his brain was not developing properly.
Alfie was admitted to Alder Hey hospital’s emergency department on December 14, 2016 after an episode of coughing, high temperature and, according to a subsequent court decision, “rhythmic jerking of all four limbs and his jaw.” The boy was diagnosed with acute viral bronchiolitis and a possible prolonged febrile convulsion. He began to jerk again, and these seizures worsened the next day. Alfie was then treated with Midazolam and then, on the 16th, with Vigabatin instead. A doctor described him as “comatose” from this time forward. On December 19, it was discovered that Alfie had a slow breathing rate and apnea (pauses in breathing). Alfie went into cardiac arrest and was given an oxygen mask.
He was admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, and was later diagnosed with pneumonia. In January 2017, Alfie’s parents were warned he might die. Nevertheless the boy recovered from pneumonia, albeit without any improvement to the health of his brain. Doctors from Alder Hey and additional doctors consulted by Alfie’s parents agreed that the child had a fatal neurodegenerative disorder. It remained undiagnosed to the end.
When Alfie’s condition declined, the hospital began to pressure his parents to remove him from life support.
They refused to give permission. Undeterred, the hospital went to court to argue that ending treatment was in the child’s best interests. On February 20, 2018, Mr Justice Heydon of the UK Supreme Court ruled that it was in Alfie’s “best interests” to discontinue treatment, to be removed from his life support, and to receive palliative care at Alder Hey.
Alfie’s parents appealed the decision before the UK Court of Appeal and the UK Supreme Court before pleading their case before the European Court of Human Rights this March. The ECHR ruled that their appeal to take their son elsewhere in the European Union was “inadmissible” and that the child’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights were not being violated. The court also refused to block Heydon’s decision that Alfie’s doctors could remove the boy’s life support.
Alder Hey then applied to the High Court to set a date for his treatment to end. Alfie’s parents responded with more appeals, all of which were denied.
Pope Francis repeatedly spoke out in support of Alfie’s parents, and an Italian priest, Fr. Gabriele Brusco, offered spiritual help to the Evans family until he was recalled to London.
On Friday, April 20, the UK High Court denied Alfie’s parents’ final appeal that they be allowed to continue caring for their son and ordered Alder Hey remove his life support on April 23.
For all LifeSite coverage of the Alfie Evans case, click here.