News Headlines > Parents of gravely ill Alfie Evans in court battle to take son to Vatican hospital

06 February 2018 | by Rose Gamble

Parents of gravely ill Alfie Evans in court battle to take son to Vatican hospital

Share this story   

Consultants from Bambino Gesu have offered to take the child to Rome to undergo operations which would keep him alive for an 'undefined period'

The parents of a gravely ill boy in Liverpool are fighting a legal battle to be allowed to take their son for treatment at the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù children’s hospital in Rome.

Doctors at the Liverpool hospital believe further treatment for 20-month-old Alfie Evans would be unkind and inhumane, but his parents, Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, have taken Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to Liverpool’s Crown court in a bid to move him to Italy.

Alfie Evans, born on 9 March 2016, is in a “semi-vegetative state,” and he also has a degenerative neurological condition, which has not been identified. Alfie’s consultant has described the boy as "unaware, in a deep coma, not able to sense, touch, to see or to hear".

Michael Mylonas QC, outlining the case for the hospital, told the court that scans of Alfie had shown “catastrophic degradation of his brain tissue” which was getting worse, and that the child was now only able to breathe through intervention by medical equipment.

At the request of the parents, three consultants from the Bambino Gesù hospital visited Alfie in Liverpool and agreed treatment would be “completely futile” in terms of curing him, Mylonas said.

However, they offered to take the child to Rome to undergo operations which would help him breathe and receive food, keeping him alive for an “undefined period.”

Hospital staff in Liverpool say such treatment would be “inappropriate”. 

On Monday (5 February), judge Mr Justice Hayden asked the consultant treating Alfie (who cannot be named for legal reasons) if the Italian approach to the "preservation of life" was different to the "more secular" UK approach, asking the witness: "Why are they wrong?"

The doctor replied: "In my opinion it does not serve the purpose. It is not in Alfie's best interests.

"Alfie is alive because we are interfering. It does not help. It does not cure. It does not make better."

He added there was "no hope for recovery... there's no hope even for stabilisation".

Alfie's father questioned whether "every avenue" had been explored for his son.

The doctor replied: "I believe we have explored every avenue. I believe the diagnoses of a relentlessly progressive neurological disease is demonstrated very clearly.

It's my belief we have done everything possible."

Mr Evans claimed clinicians repeatedly "pressured" him and Ms James to end their son's life support before waiting for a full diagnosis at the beginning of 2017, asking if that was "professional".

But the doctor told the court he had no recollection of such conversations.

The court also heard yesterday that results from a fresh MRI scan ordered by Justice Anthony Hayden, showed further deterioration of the boy's brain.

The previous set of scans, taken in August, showed Alfie's brain had reduced by more than 70 per cent of its normal size. Six months on, the latest scans taken on 2 February showed the disease has now destroyed even more of his brain.

Outside court, Mr Evans said he was "still not giving up hope".

The hearing continues.

PICTURE: Tom Evans (centre) the partner of Kate James, the parents of 20-month-old son Alfie Evans, outside Liverpool Civil and Family Court on 1 February 2018 ©PA 

Share this story

Article List

Latest Issue
Digital/PDF Version

PDF version (iPad-friendly)

Previous Issues
Tablet Subscription

Manage my subcription here