Alfie Evans was a seriously ill baby, whose devoted parents fought tooth and nail to keep him alive. The courts eventually decided that he could not have further treatment abroad, but even in the youngster’s very final moments on this Earth, his father Tom would not give up the fight.
Tom Evans and Kate James are a couple from Liverpool, U.K., who have been through something that no parents ever should. Their story is heartbreaking, and what happened to them was widely reported by the media worldwide.
In May 2016 Tom and Kate welcomed a baby boy into the world, whom they named Alfie. But by December of that year, things had already started to go wrong. Alfie ended up in hospital after going through a series of seizures, and it was just the beginning of a long and painful road for him and his parents.
Little Alfie was diagnosed with a degenerative brain condition. He ended up in a minimally conscious state for months on end, with doctors unable to figure out what precisely had caused the problem. This led to clashes between medical professionals and Alfie’s parents.
Tom and Kate ended up in a tense dispute with the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital – the facility where Alfie was being treated. The hospital wanted to take Alfie off life support because they felt that there was no further benefit to keeping him on it.
Indeed, the hospital thought that keeping Alfie alive by ventilator was “futile” because of the “catastrophic degradation of his brain tissue” that showed up on his scans. It was of the opinion that it was “unkind and inhumane” to treat him any more.
However, Tom and Kate vehemently disagreed. They were totally against the idea of turning off their son’s life support because they believed that more could be done for him. Tom even went as far as describing his son as a “prisoner” at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
First of all, Alfie’s parents took their case to court. However, they were defeated – the High Court ruled that the hospital was right to turn off the child’s ventilator because there was “no hope” for his recovery. The devastated parents then brought their argument to the Court of Appeal as well as the European Court of Human Rights.
But each time Tom and Kate were unsuccessful. In a desperate bid to keep their son alive, they tried to take him abroad for treatment. In fact, Tom even traveled to Rome, Italy, to meet Pope Francis, who had tweeted kind words about Alfie in the past.
The Pope agreed to try and save Alfie, and soon after that, the sick youngster was given Italian citizenship so that he could travel to Italy to receive further treatment. The Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome had various ideas for operations that it claimed might help Alfie breathe.
But the European Court of Human Rights denied Alfie’s parents permission to take him to Rome. At this point, Tom and Kate were desperate, and they tried to make new submissions to the High Court, which were dismissed. Alfie had only a few days left to live.
Alfie’s life support was turned off that same day, on April 23, 2018. But Tom and Kate still didn’t give up over the painful few days that followed. They kept fighting to take their son abroad, but the courts would not allow him to be removed from the U.K. By April 28 Alfie had passed away.
Supporters of the parents were devastated by the news, but there was something particularly poignant about Alfie’s final few moments, as his dad showed that he would do anything to keep him alive.
Alfie’s parents had campaigned tirelessly to stop their son’s ventilator from being turned off. But in the end, there was nothing that they could do to stop the hospital from going ahead with it. Alfie did manage to breathe unaided for a while though.
But eventually he was no longer able to breathe, so Tom made one final gallant effort to save his son’s life. According to a relative, Alfie’s dad desperately tried to help his son breathe again by giving him mouth-to-mouth treatment.
“He was blowing and blowing and blowing,” the relative recalled but the resuscitation technique proved futile, and Alfie officially slipped away at 02:30 in the morning. The fight was finally over for the little boy at the center of all the legal battles.
After his son’s death, Tom took to Facebook to break the news to the world. “My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings… absolutely heartbroken,” he wrote. So were many people worldwide who had followed Alfie’s turbulent journey.
Later that day, more than 1,000 members of the public gathered outside Alder Hey hospital and released hundreds of balloons to commemorate Alfie’s short life. When the Pope heard about Alfie’s death, he tweeted that he was “deeply moved” by the news.
The hospital, which had found itself under intense pressure and alleged abuse from supporters of Alfie’s parents, also released a statement after Alfie passed away. It acknowledged how it had been a “devastating journey” for the family.
Alfie’s case divided people all over the world. Whether it was ethically, morally or medically right to switch off the youngster’s life support is something that people will never agree on, but what is undeniable is that Alfie’s parents loved him deeply, right up until his very final moments.