An emergency court hearing is underway in the case of gravely ill toddler Alfie Evans, who suffers from an unknown degenerative brain condition. The Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool removed the 23-month-old’s life support Monday afternoon but the child stunned doctors by breathing unassisted for nine hours, something the hospital said was impossible. Last week, Alfie’s parents lost their final bid in their court battle with the hospital to move him to Rome for treatment.
Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, have now been granted an emergency hearing before a high court judge Tuesday afternoon, in light of this most recent development.
The Pope and the Bambino Gesú hospital in Rome have fought to help Alfie’s parents continue their son’s treatment in hopes of finding a diagnosis for the toddler’s rare condition. Italy even made Alfie a citizen Monday in an attempt to aid his transfer.
The head of the Vatican's Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital said that the Italian defense ministry has a plane ready to transport Alfie to Italy if the courts allow it.
Alfie’s father said that after the doctors left his son “for six hours without food, water and oxygen,” they relented and began to give him water and oxygen.
"He's now on oxygen,” he told reporters. “It's not changing his breathing but it's oxygenating his body.”
“Because he’s been doing it for nine hours totally unexpected, the doctors are gobsmacked,” he added, “and I do believe he will need some form of life support in the next couple of hours, and I think he ought to be respected and given that.”
“They say Alfie’s suffering,” Evans emphasized. “Well look at him now. He’s not even on a ventilator and he’s not suffering.”
Alfie’s mother posted a photo to their Facebook group of Alfie sleeping in her arms without life support, writing “no matter what happens he has already proved these doctors wrong…how beautiful does he look.”
Many on Twitter are calling out the hospital over its insistence that it would be "unkind" and "futile" to continue treatment for Alfie despite the parents’ wishes and ability to transfer him to Rome.
Alfie has been breathing on his own for 30 minutes or so now, despite the barbarous decision to remove his ventilator. This runs counter to the court's factual "finding" about his respiratory capabilities. State-directed murder. #AlfieEvans— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) April 23, 2018
#AlfieEvans has been breathing unassisted in @AlderHey hospital for 10 hours now. He’s held captive there & refused further life-sustaining care. His parents are forcibly barred from taking him to their hospital of choice in Italy. A terrible, lethal abuse of power. #prayforalfie— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) April 24, 2018
The gut-wrenching story of Alfie Evans is why we should not let gov't make decisions that only God should make. Brits have decided some kids just aren't worth that much and are disposable. #prayforalfie https://t.co/OP6lkXrL1N— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) April 24, 2018
Pope Francis tweeted a prayer Monday that the parents’ desire to seek new forms of treatment would be granted.
Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 23, 2018