Massive protests erupted outside a British children’s hospital after a date was set to switch off Alfie Evans’ life support. The 23-month-old has an unspecified degenerative brain disease and doctors argue that any further treatment is futile. Aflie’s parents, however, disagree and want to move him to Italy to embark on a new treatment plan. Tragically, the final blow came when, in March, the European Court of Human Rights rejected their case.
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A shocking incident occurred yesterday, as Alfie’s parents attempted to remove their son from the hospital, but were blocked by authorities. Police refused to let the boy go, despite the parents possessing legal documentation that they insist should allow them to relocate their son. The emotionally-charged situation has been building for weeks, and last night it hit boiling point with massive protests outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
Officers said the “large” and “peaceful” protest in Liverpool on Thursday night “did cause significant traffic disruption and inconvenience for other people trying to access the hospital,” as reported by the BBC.
The family have said that they have a private ambulance and jet on standby to take transport their son to a new treatment facility. “There’s no court order to say Alfie has to stay in this hospital right now,” Alfie’s father explained to the BBC.
“The truth behind the matter is that me and Kate hold full responsibility and we can take him to our transportation van with full equipment with the doctors who have got full duty of care… and they are not allowing us so we are hoping that my solicitor is going to spin the spoon and get us out.”
— 🏥 Alder Hey Children's Hospital (@AlderHey) April 13, 2018
In February, judge Mr Justice Hayden ruled that doctors at Alder Hey could stop treating Alfie against the wishes of his parents. This came after hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London and Liverpool. However, on Wednesday, the judge said what had happened to Alfie was “profoundly unfair” and that he had endorsed an end-of-life-care plan that had been drawn up for Alfie by a team of specialists.
Another update, posted to the Alfies Army Official Facebook group, stated that the parents are currently in “mediation” over their son’s situation, and urged “everybody to hold off with speculation and wait to hear from Thomas and Kate.”
“Alfie’s parents themselves will update everybody on the outcome,” the post added.
💜💂💙ADMIN POST💙💂💜UPDATE:Thomas, Kate, lawyers & alder hey are currently in mediation.We ask everybody to hold off…
Alfie’s father Tom posted a video to Facebook last night, in which he presented a document from the Christian Legal Centre that he claims gives him the legal right to remove his son from the hospital.
Posted by Kate James on Thursday, April 12, 2018
Mr. Evans he thinks his son is showing signs of cognitive improvement, and that medics should release him to be treated somewhere else.
“We do think there’s scope for negotiation,” said the Evans’ family barrister, Paul Diamond,as reported by the Daily Mail. “Tom Evans is entirely shocked by this progressive consultation, they thought as reasonable people it should be explored, this offer by the Italian hospital. They think there’s undue haste being taken on this for some reasons they don’t understand.'”
Justice Hayden said that he would watch the videos out of “courtesy” but is in no place to offer up medical opinion.
“Alfie is a little boy with a neuro-degenerative condition and that condition has degenerated his brain and it is irreparable. All doctors here, in Germany and in Italy agreed on this – the brain can not regenerate itself,” he said. “I ask myself if I were in a bed in a hospital in that condition, would I want video of myself in the public domain? And I dont have any difficulty answering that in the negative, so I find myself wondering why it’s right for Alfie.
“Alfie’s brain as we know is almost entirely water. He has no say on whether these photos are taken,” the judge added.
“I’m not in any way qualified to gainsay a medical opinion. It would be entirely inappropriate to do so. But out of courtesy and, I hope, kindness to Tom and Kate, I will watch it.”
Additionally, a lawyer for the hospital has voiced concern over a video that shows Alfie’s mother Kate feeding him chocolate from the tip of her finger. “We are concerned that one of the videos shows Kate providing Alfie with food by mouth. There’s a significant risk of aspiration,” said Mr Michael Mylonas QC, who is representing Alder Hey.
“We are concerned that one of the videos shows Kate providing Alfie with food by mouth. There’s a significant risk of aspiration,” he said
The High Court has ruled that Alfie Evans will be taken off life support at an undisclosed time and location.
“We understand that this is an incredibly difficult time for Alfie’s family and we continue to support them in every way we can,” said a spokesman for the hospital.
“Despite reports, at no point has a date for withdrawal of treatment for Alfie been agreed. After a long and difficult legal process, the courts have ruled that Alfie’s condition is irreversible and untreatable and that continued active treatment is not in his best interests.”
“We always aim to reach agreement with parents about the most appropriate palliative care plan for their child but sadly, in this case, we have not been able to do this,” the spokesman added. “Consequently, we must return to the High Court, as we are legally required to do, for guidance about a date on which to withdraw treatment from Alfie.”
A petition has been set up to help secure Alfie’s release – it currently has over 240,000 signatures. You can sign it here.