The U.K. Court of Appeal has once again rejected a bid to allow 23-month-old terminally ill Alfie Evans to be removed from a U.K. hospital in order to seek further care in Rome, CNN reported on Thursday.
After new developments with Alfie’s condition this week, the child now sits in limbo with hospital staff refusing care and the boy’s parents pleading with doctors to allow him to come home.
Alfie suffers from an undiagnosed neurodegenerative disorder that has left the boy in what doctors have called a semi-vegetative state.
His parents have denied this, with Alfie’s father Tom Evans claiming that his son “looks him in the eye” and “wants help.”
Alfie was being kept alive by artificial ventilation, but was ultimately taken off life support this week due to a court order. Miraculously, the boy has been breathing on his own for the last three days, but continues to receive minimal support from hospital doctors and nurses.
Alfie’s case has divided Britain and led to a number of controversial court cases that have all ruled against the Evans family.
The boy’s parents insisted that it is in their son’s best interest to travel to Rome, where Alfie was granted Italian citizenship, to seek additional treatment. Alfie’s father even met with Pope Francis, who gave his blessing.
However, every court over the last year has ruled that Alfie must stay at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, with this most recent decision claiming that further treatment would not do the boy any good.
Professor Dominic Wilkinson, a consultant neonatologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital and director of Medical Ethics at Oxford, said that hospitals and courts must follow certain ethical frameworks. In Alfie’s unique case, the decisions made by the courts said that treatment should no longer be provided, despite the parents’ wishes.
“Sometimes, the sad fact is that parents do not know what is best for their child,” Wilkinson said. “They are led by their grief and their sadness, their understandable desire to hold on to their child, to request treatment that will not and cannot help.”
Supporters of the Evans family said that their son has every right to seek additional medical attention.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said “it cannot be in Alfie’s best interests to be left in Alder Hey where the court order is to let him die. Alfie’s best interests would be served by allowing him to travel to Italy.”
The boy’s parents had hoped to get a ruling from the Supreme Court and the European Court, but Alfie’s father now says he would just like the battle to end.
During Alfie’s stay at Alder Hey Hospital, tensions between hospital staff and the boy’s parents were high, but Alfie’s father said they would like doctors to give their son “dignity and comfort” and to make peace.
“We would now ask you to return back to your everyday lives and allow myself, Kate and Alder Hey to form a relationship [with Alder Hey], build a bridge and walk across it,” he said.