A judge held last month that doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool could stop treating and end 21-month-old Alfie Evans’ life support. This would be against the wishes of the parents.
Alfie has an undiagnosed degenerative neurological condition and is in a “semi-vegetative state”. He has been at the hospital for more than a year. The parents, Kate James, 20, and Tom Evans, 21, wish to take him abroad to treatment, but doctors say it is “futile”. Evans has already said that he will challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court. In MRI scans, it showed that 70 percent of his brain matter is destroyed.
The Court of Appeal’s judge Mrs Justice King said that the medical evidence showed Alfie to be “deeply comatose” and “to all intents and purposes unaware of his surroundings”. She continued, that although the father wants to move him to a hospital in Rome and then, if necessary, to one in Munich, there is “no clear plan”.
King also commented on the Liverpool Civil and Family Court’s decision. The judge, Mr Justice Anthony Hayden, said that further treatment would be “futile” and concluded by giving doctors the permission to only provide palliative care for Alfie. King said Hayden considered all the presented evidence and ensured that the father and mother “had every opportunity to express their views”. She also said that he had been “meticulous and thorough” and his approach was gentle with great respect, but the best interest of the child had to prevail. To read Hayden’s judgement, click here.
Barrister Stephen Knafler QC, the one leading the parents’ legal team, stated that the State had wrongly interfered with “parental choice”, and that the previous court ruling prevented the parents to transfer their son to a hospital abroad.
Another appeal case, for Isaiah Hastrup, a disabled and brain-damaged boy at a centre of a life-support treatment dispute in London, was declared inadmissible at the European Court of Human Rights. Isaiah’s condition was caused due to the deprivation of oxygen at birth, and currently cannot move or breathe independently, and has a low level of consciousness.