Judge to decide date life support is withdrawn for Alfie Evans

A hospital will ask a judge to set a date for withdrawing life support for terminally ill Liverpool boy Alfie Evans.

The 23-month-old, who has a rare degenerative brain disease which doctors have been unable to diagnose, is being kept alive on a ventilator at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.

His parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, both in their 20s and from Liverpool, have fought a long legal battle through the courts to keep their son alive.

Alfie Evans court case
Alfie Evans court case

They took their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, but it was rejected by the ECHR last week, ending their legal options after a decision to withdraw life support was upheld by Court of Appeal judges and Supreme Court justices in the UK.

The case has drawn interventions from the Pope, and the White House has been contacted by North West England MEP, Steven Woolfe, who has supported Alfie's family.

It is my sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard. I am praying for Alfie, for his family and for all who are involved.

-- Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 4, 2018

On Thursday, Mr Evans and Mr Woolfe had a meeting with hospital officials, where Mr Evans presented what he believed was fresh evidence.

His understanding was that a decision on ending life support was on hold for the hospital to reconsider and review the case, including "alternative options", including taking Alfie to Italy for treatment.

But Alfie's mother said they were given "false hope" as, within an hour of the meeting, Alder Hey's lawyers were contacting the High Court to arrange a date for a court hearing for a judge to rule on a date for withdrawing life support.

Courts, Alfie
Courts, Alfie

In a statement on Friday, Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust said: "We understand that this is an incredibly difficult time for Alfie's family and we continue to support them in every way we can.

"Understandably, there is a lot of interest in this case but, despite reports, at no point has a date for withdrawal of treatment for Alfie been agreed with his family.

"After a long and difficult legal process, the courts have ruled that Alfie's condition is irreversible and untreatable and that continued active treatment is not in his best interests.

"We always aim to reach agreement with parents about the most appropriate palliative care plan for their child but sadly, in this case, we have not been able to do this.

"Consequently, we must return to the High Court, as we are legally required to do, for guidance about a date on which to withdraw treatment from Alfie.

"We understand that this case is highly emotive and many people have an interest in Alfie's situation.

"We are receiving an unprecedented amount of queries, concerns, comments and questions on social media, via phone, email and in person.

"We need to make it clear that Alder Hey will not make any comment about Alfie or his treatment to any members of the public.

"We ask that our staff are treated with respect."

Steven Woolfe MEP
Steven Woolfe MEP

Mr Woolfe said: "Our position is the family are saying Alfie's physical condition has changed. He's showing more activity, smiling, lifting his eyelids. I'm not a doctor but I've seen him myself, you can see physical signs of life.

"He's a beautiful little boy.

"They believe there are possible physical changes with Alfie to enable him to be safely transported to Italy and an Air Ambulance that would carry him that would satisfy Alder Hey's concerns."

Earlier this week, Pope Francis waded into the life support treatment battle, saying: "It is my sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard."

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