Alfie Evans died on April 28 at 2:30 am at the Alder Hey NHS (National Health Service) Foundation hospital, following a long-running legal ordeal between the Liverpool children’s hospital and the infant’s parents, Thomas Evans and Kate James.
Numerous courts ruled against the parents who sought to overturn the doctors’ decision to not treat this infant son. He died five days after the ventilator was removed.
Alfie was admitted to Alder Hey hospital’s emergency department on December 14, 2016 after an episode of coughing, high temperature and, according to a subsequent court decision, “rhythmic jerking of all four limbs and his jaw.” The boy was diagnosed with acute viral bronchiolitis and a possible prolonged febrile convulsion. He began to jerk again, and these seizures worsened the next day. Alfie was then treated with Midazolam and then, on the 16th, with Vigabatin instead. A doctor described him as “comatose” from this time forward. On December 19, it was discovered that Alfie had a slow breathing rate and apnea (pauses in breathing). Alfie went into cardiac arrest and was given an oxygen mask.
He was admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, and was later diagnosed with pneumonia. In January 2017, Alfie’s parents were warned he might die. Nevertheless the boy recovered from pneumonia, albeit without any improvement to the health of his brain. Doctors from Alder Hey and additional doctors consulted by Alfie’s parents agreed that the child had a fatal neurodegenerative disorder. It remained undiagnosed to the end.
When Alfie’s condition declined, the hospital began to pressure his parents to remove him from life support.
They refused to give permission. Undeterred, the hospital went to court to argue that ending treatment was in the child’s best interests. On February 20, Justice Heydon of the UK Supreme Court ruled that it was in Alfie’s “best interests” to discontinue treatment, to be removed from his life support, and to receive palliative care at Alder Hey.
Alfie’s parents appealed the decision before the UK Court of Appeal and the UK Supreme Court before pleading their case before the European Court of Human Rights this March. The ECHR ruled that their appeal to take their son elsewhere in the European Union was “inadmissible” and that the child’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights were not being violated. The court also refused to block Heydon’s decision that Alfie’s doctors could remove the boy’s life support.
Alder Hey then applied to the High Court to set a date for his treatment to end. Alfie’s parents responded with more appeals, all of which were denied.
They also refused the family’s request to release Evans so he could either convalesce at home or be taken to Italy for a tracheostomy so he could possibly breath on his own.
On April 24, doctors at Alder Hey turned off Alfie’s ventilation machine. Thomas Evans reported that his son breathed on his own, only once needing resuscitation, after the ventilator was removed. He said that it was proof that further surgical interventions were worth attempting.
Kate James said of her son after his passing: on Facebook: “Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am. We are heart broken. Thank you everyone for all your support.”
Evans reported that hours before dying, Alfie’s fingers were turning blue. “He’s needing oxygen but the hospital won’t give him any.”
In a statement issued on its website, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, said: “We wish to express our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Alfie’s family at this extremely distressing time. All of us feel deeply for Alfie, Kate, Tom and his whole family and our thoughts are with them. This has been a devastating journey for them and we would ask that their privacy and the privacy of staff at Alder Hey is respected.”
The case drew international attention, with regular protests outside Alder Hey, but also demonstrations in Poland and Israel in support of the child. Pope Francis weighed in, saying Alfie Evans should be transported to a hospital willing to more aggressively treat the child.
Questions have been raised about Alfie’s cause of death. An Italian newspaper reported that a nurse administered “four drugs” to Alfie two hours before he died. Two sources close to Alfie’s family told LifeSiteNews that these were “injections.”
On May 14, the UK High Court refused to order a post-mortem examination of the toddler’s remains at the request of a pro-life advocate. John Allman made an “urgent application” to the UK High Court in Westminster to prevent the destruction of the late toddler’s remains without a prior post-mortem examination and toxicology report. The baby’s remains were scheduled to be interred that day in a private ceremony.
Allman went to court after corresponding with the Liverpool coroner, André Rebello. On May 8, Rebello stated that Alfie Evans died from natural causes and that he had no duty to investigate. Rebello said he did not have to investigate because a medical certificate had been issued, and he was satisfied that there was nothing unnatural in the infant’s death.
Allman said, “a toxicology report may reveal to what extent, if any, medication given to Alfie before he died may have shortened his life. It could therefore exonerate fully those unfortunate health professionals whom, somewhat irresponsibly, until your inquest reveals the truth and silences the wagging tongues, various conspiracy theorists are wont recklessly to accuse of homicide.”
LifeSiteNews reported that its medical advisers could not understand why the child would be given four separate drugs. One or two drugs could be explained as an attempt to sedate the child or administer painkillers, if he were in distress. Four, however, seemed to them mysterious.
– With files from LifeSiteNews