European rights court rejects case on terminally ill toddler

Alfie Evans hearing

Alder Hey Hospital are now providing care for Alfie Evans, a 22-month-old, who has a degenerative neurological condition which has left him severely brain damaged.

The European Court of Human Rights on Monday rejected a case from British parents who want to take their terminally ill toddler to Italy for treatment instead of allowing a United Kingdom hospital to remove him from life support.

A judge hearing the case of Alfie Evans has asked doctors if "other options" are possible to allow his family to take him home after life support was withdrawn.

The family want to fly Alfie to Bambino Gesú, a hospital in Rome, where experts have reportedly said they will treat the little boy.

While medical professionals have been unable to identify Evans' exact brain condition, they said he remains in a "semi-vegetative state". Calling themselves "Alfie's Army", the protesters say that the British doctors' desire to remove Alfie from life support violates the sanctity of life, as well as his parents' wishes to continue seeking treatment to keep him alive.

The toddler had been granted Italian citizenship.

Kate James, Alfie's mother, posted two photos on Facebook with the caption: "Alfie has been allowed oxygen and water! Alfie has survived much longer than the doctors predicted", said the Christian Legal Centre.

On April 23, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti granted citizenship to the toddler, in hopes that being an Italian citizen would allow the child to be transferred to Italy immediately. The bishops defended Alder Hey hospital, saying the "public criticism" of their work was "unfounded as our chaplaincy care for the staff, and indeed offered to the family, has been consistently provided".

Hayden did, however, ask if Alder Hey would consider allowing Evans to be transported home with his family.

This came the day after Alfie's life support machine was removed, then oxygen and hydration were re-administered when the boy survived for several hours, contrary to the prediction of doctors.

It said: "LFC are at Anfield - can anyone get in touch with all the fans about a chant on 23 mins for Alfie?".

Hayden looked at the issues surrounding the case on Tuesday and heard submissions from Alder Hey's hospital lawyers, Alfie's parents and the toddler's legal guardian.

Alfie's father, Tom Evans, addressed the media outside Alder Hey Children's Hospital earlier today.

Alfie was admitted into Alder Hey Children's Hospital on December 14, 2016, and was diagnosed with seven illnesses including pneumonia, bronchitis, and RSV.

They have lost a series of legal challenges against a High Court ruling in February that Alder Hey could withdraw ventilation.

Alfie has defied doctors' expectations to this point and his parents are headed back to court to fight for his life further.

The emotive case recalls the short life of another British child, Charlie Gard, who died of a rare genetic disease in July 2017 after a vicious court battle in which his parents sought treatment first in the US and then Italy.

Under British law, it is common for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child. Take, for example, the story of five-year-old Ashya King, whose parents were jailed for "abducting" him in 2014 from a British hospital to take him for cancer treatment elsewhere in Europe.

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