In a context of confusion and flashy journalism, rigour becomes a precious value.
The 23-month toddler passed away on early Saturday morning. Father Tom Evans: “Together we recognise the strains recent events have put upon us all”.
Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old toddler in the UK whose rare illness drew international attention, died early on Saturday.
His father Tom Evans confirmed it on Facebook:
Alfie Evans was admitted to Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool in December 2016 suffering from seizures, and diagnosed a degenerative neurological condition which the doctors have not been able to identify definitively.
Since then, he has been in a semi-vegetative state, on a ventilator in the critical care unit, until this Monday 23 April, when the High Court ruled that his ventilator had to be switched off.
On Thursday, Tom Evans, Alfie's father, delivered a statement outside Alder Hey, after a meeting with doctors at the hospital.
“Our little family, along with Alder Hey Hospital, has become the centre of attention for many people around the world and it has meant we have not been able to live our lives as we would like”, Evans said.
He appreciated “all the support we have received from around the world”, but “now ask you to return back to your everyday lives and allow myself, Kate and Alder Hey to form a relationship, build a bridge and walk across it”.
“WE THANK HOSPITAL STAFF”
Evans thanked “Alder Hey staff at every level for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them, too”.
“Together we recognise the strains recent events have put upon us all and […] in Alfie's interests we will work with his treatment team on a plan that provides our boy with the dignity and comfort he needs”.
He concluded saying that there would be no more statements issued or interviews given.
LONG LEGAL BATTLE
The couple had previously expressed strong criticism of medical staff at Alder Hey Children's Hospital amid the legal proceedings.
It began when the hospital went to the High Court to seek a declaration that continued ventilator support is not in Alfie's best interests and in the circumstances it is not lawful that such treatment continue”.
Doctors argued that scans showed “catastrophic degradation of his brain tissue”, so that further treatment was not only “futile” but also “unkind and inhumane”.
Alfie's parents disagreed and asked to move his son to the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome, which has links to the Vatican, and had suggested operations to help Alfie breathe and keep him alive for an “undefined period”.
On 20 February, Mr Justice Hayden said doctors could stop providing life support for Alfie against his parents' wishes, saying the child required “peace, quiet and privacy”.
The Evans refused to give up hope and took the case, first to the Court of Appeal, then to to the Supreme Court and finally to the to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), losing all the cases.
The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted Alfie Italian citizenship, hoping it would allow an “immediate transfer to Italy”, but the court rejected it, stating that “Alfie is a British citizen who falls therefore under the jurisdiction of the High Court”.
Alfie's parents then launched a further appeal against the order stopping them from taking him to Italy, which was heard on Wednesday afternoon by a panel of three Court of Appeal judges.
The judges upheld a ruling preventing the 23-month-old from travelling abroad after life support was withdrawn. Alfie is now breathing spontaneously on oxygen.
“DEEPLY COMPLEX AND DIFFICULT CASE”
Peter Saunders, CEO of Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) in the United Kingdom, said “this is a deeply complex and difficult case”.
“I think there are two key questions with this case: ‘What is the best way of managing Alfie?’ and ‘Who should ultimately decide what treatment he has?’”, he wrote in an article.
“There is an important ethical difference between the active ending of life and the withdrawal of treatment”, Saunders explained.
According to the CEO of CFM, “these decisions must be made on grounds that the treatment is not worth giving, not that the patient is not worth treating”.
“Based on the clinical details that are in the public domain, it seems most likely that Alfie will die, but if his parents wish to try other treatment options, then the hospital and the courts should not stand in their way”, Saunders pointed out.