LIVERPOOL — An emergency hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. UK time today after toddler Alfie Evans survived the night following the removal of his life support.
“Ventilation support was withdrawn at 9:20 p.m. [on Monday]. Contrary to all the expectations of the doctors, Alfie continued to breathe independently,” the Christian Legal Centre, which is representing Evans’ parents in court, outlined in an update on Tuesday.
Doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool had believed that the child was solely being kept alive by the ventilator and would die after artificial ventilation was withdrawn. Life support was removed last night after all appeal efforts in the courts were unsuccessful, but Alfie breathed on his own.
See photo above of Alfie being held by his mother.
“Alfie continued to breathe unaided, but with some coughing, for some six hours with hospital staff refusing to intervene to help with either ventilation or hydration. Between 4 and 5 a.m. this morning, the hospital reluctantly gave in to continued requests and provided some hydration and oxygen support,” the Christian Legal Centre explained.
An emergency hearing is now scheduled in the high court today as the child’s parents seek to try one more time to obtain permission to transfer Alfie to a hospital in Italy. A helicopter is reportedly waiting outside of the hospital should the request be granted.
As previously reported, Tom Evans and Kate James took their son Alfie, then six months, to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in December 2016 due to a chest infection.
The child, who was born healthy by all indications, was checked out by a doctor prior to his admittance as he began exhibiting abnormal jerking movements. Evans and James state that they were told that the boy was simply a late bloomer.
While hospitalized, Alfie struggled to breathe due to a myoclonic jerking spasm, and was placed on life support. In January 2016, it was thought that Alfie would not make it, but he overcame the infection for a time and began to improve. However, the infant had to be intubated again after contracting another infection, and has been stated to be in a semi-vegetative state.
Evans and James state that they still do not know specifically what is wrong with their son other than that he has a degenerative neurological condition, and disagree with the hospital that Alfie is unaware of his surroundings.
“The hospital claims that Alfie is ‘insensate’ and unaware of any stimulus or irritation, which is proven wrong in hundreds of videos, against the odds of a heavy cocktail of anti-seizure drugs with sedative effect. Daily, Alfie moves, stretches, yawns, responding to tickling and noise and cuddling,” a petition on Change.org states.
Alfie’s parents have recorded their son yawning, stretching and opening his eyes as they believe it is evidence that doctors shouldn’t give up on him yet.
However, in court proceedings, Alder Hey officials testified that they believe that Alfie’s brain is “entirely beyond recovery” and 70 percent damaged. They argued that it is in the child’s “best interests” to be withdrawn from life support.
According to the BBC, Justice Anthony Hayden ruled in February that Alfie’s plight was “profoundly unfair,” but agreed with Alder Hey that treatment measures would be futile, and that the nearly two-year-old boy rather needs “good quality palliative care.” A court of appeals upheld the ruling last month.
Earlier this month, Hayden ordered the end-of-life plan to proceed, stating that while he understands the frustration of Alfie’s parents, he sees no chance of recovery and believes that Evans is hoping for an “entirely unrealistic solution.”
“On February 20, I gave a conclusion after six days of evidence after which Mr. Evans cross examined doctors with conspicuous skill and manifest sincerity,” he said. “But I came to the conclusion at the end of that hearing that Alfie’s brain had been so corrupted by mitochondrial disease that his life was futile.”
“By the time I came to conclude the case the terrible reality is that almost the entirety of Alfie’s brain had been eroded, leaving only water and spinal fluid,” Hayden stated. “Even at the end of February, the connective pathways within the brain had been obliterated. They were no longer even identifiable.”
As appeal efforts were unsuccessful, life support was removed on Monday night, but Alfie remains alive, defying expectations.
“Alfie continues to fight for his life in an extraordinary way, as do his parents and our lawyers,” said Andrea Williams, who leads Christian Concern, the parent organization of the Christian Legal Centre. “We welcome the intervention of the Italian government and are grateful that they stand ready to take Alfie to Italy.”
“A common sense approach must now be for Justice Hayden to discharge all the court orders which detain Alfie and seek to end his life in Alder Hey, and give him the chance to be treated and looked after in Italy,” she said. “It cannot be in Alfie’s best interests to be left in Alder Hey where the court order is to let him die.”
“I fought hard in court for my son because I know what’s right! And look where we are now; my son is still ALIVE AFTER OVER 10 horrendous, scary, heartbreaking hours,” Evans posted to Facebook. “Pray for him.”