Life-support treatment was withdrawn by legal order in the UK in the evening of April 23, 2018 for 23 month-old toddler, Alfie Evans. His parents have filed an urgent appeal for a transfer to Rome where the Italian authorities have accepted to care for him.
Born on May 9, 2016 Alfie has a degenerative neurological condition, which is difficult to diagnose. Since being admitted to the Alder Hay Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, he has been in a pauci-relational state on a mechanical respirator. The toddler’s young parents have filed numerous lawsuits in the past few months, to contest the hospital’s requests for withdrawing Alfie’s life-support treatment. They have already lost a series of appeals in the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the London Supreme Court who all ruled in favor of the Liverpool Hospital considering that the latter “must be free to act in the manner which has been established to be in Alfie’s best interest.” The parents’ appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was also rejected.
Faced with the impending ruling from the British courts to withdraw the tot’s respiratory assistance, several prominent individuals have recently become involved: including Pope Francis and the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani. The authorities in Italy are ready to offer Italian citizenship to Alfie so care could be continued in a hospital in Rome.
Nine hours after stopping his respirator, the little boy continued to breathe spontaneously on his own; in the morning he was hydrated and received oxygen. The parents’ lawyer filed a new emergency appeal on Tuesday, April 24th, requesting his transfer to Italy. During the hearing the Liverpool Hospital doctors voiced their circumspection for the child’s short-term medical condition, in the event of a theoretical transfer. Then in the evening, the British court ruled against the transfer to Italy but considered the possibility that the parents could take Alfie home.
A new hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, April 25th.
This case is reminiscent of another heart-breaking case, that of the little Charlie Gard, who died on July 21, 2017. Charlie’s parents had protested against stropping treatment, but after final medical examinations, accepted that their baby’s respiratory assistance be withdrawn.