Newsbreak

Alfie Evans’ parents lose final battle, court mandates removal of life support

human rights, British Supreme court

UPDATE: The European Court of Human Rights has refused to intervene in the case, noting that it rejected the family’s application as “inadmissible.”

It seems that Alfie Evans will face the same fate as Charlie Gard. The seriously ill toddler has been on life support since he began having seizures and caught a chest infection. While doctors initially predicted that he would not live past the new year, Alfie surprised them all, able to come off the ventilator. But another infection left him in a “semi-vegetative” state, and doctors at Alder Hey Hospital have ruled that treating Alfie is “futile.” While it is believed that Alfie has encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, his parents insist that he has received no specific diagnosis. Alfie’s parents refused to remove him from life support, setting off a series of court battles just like Charlie Gard’s case, and like Charlie, Alfie has repeatedly lost.

According to Tom Evans, Alfie’s father, there are multiple hospitals outside of the United Kingdom willing to take Alfie in and treat him, as well as multiple air ambulance companies willing to transport him. But last week, Justice Anthony Hayden still ruled against Alfie and mandated that his life support be removed. The British Supreme Court has since heard Alfie’s case, and ruled that Alfie must die.

READ: ‘What if it was your child?’ Charlie Gard’s mother shouts in court as judge announces fate

The Supreme Court said that there was “no reason for further delay” and that “there will be no further stay of the Court of Appeal’s order.” Alfie’s parents have announced that they plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, but the judges addressed their plan. “That is the law in this country. No application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg can or should change that,” the ruling read.

One troubling part of the ruling was the justices’ argument that Alfie should be removed from life support because his condition will allegedly not improve. “Alfie looks like a normal baby, but the unanimous opinion of the doctors who have examined him and the scans of his brain is that almost all of his brain has been destroyed,” the justices said. “No one knows why. But that it has happened and is continuing to happen cannot be denied. It means that Alfie cannot breathe, or eat, or drink without sophisticated medical treatment. It also means that there is no hope of his ever getting better.” His parents dispute this, though, pointing out that videos show Alfie is able to do things doctors claim he cannot do:

And at its core, the argument the British Supreme Court justices seem to be making is that because Alfie’s condition may not improve — leaving him severely disabled for the rest of his life — he is not worth the effort or expense to keep alive.

Alfie’s parents insist that they are not going to give up on their son. “This is not justice. This is a cruel bureaucracy,” Evans said. “We have instructed our lawyers to submit an urgent application to the European Court of Human Rights, and they have done so today. We will not give up. We will continue to fight, by all means available to us within the law, to save our son’s life.”

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