Breaking: UK judge denies parents request to take son to Italy for medical treatment

Remember the Charlie Gard case? Parents of the young child had to watch the National Health Service in the United Kingdom allow him to die after refusing to allow the child to leave the country for experimental treatment. The diagnosis was too dire and the case considered too terminal for parental wishes to be considered.


A ghastly rerun is taking place, this time with Alfie Evans, only this time the diagnosis is unclear — and he’s surviving on his own after a court ordered him removed from a ventilator:

Mr Justice Hayden also appeared to rule out his family’s wishes to take the 23-month-old to Italy for treatment.

Alfie has been at the centre of a life-or-death treatment battle, with his parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, trying to stop his doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool from withdrawing life support in a sometimes acrimonious six-month dispute which has seen a series of court battles.

Last night life-support was withdrawn but Alfie, who has a degenerative neurological condition destroying his brain, has shocked medics by continuing to breathe unaided for nearly 24 hours with an air ambulance on stand by to fly the child to Italy.

But in a blow to Alfie’s parents and their supporters dubbed Alfie’s Army, Mr Justice Hayden, speaking to lawyers representing Alfie’s parents and Alder Hey Hospital, suggested he has ruled out further treatment in Italy or Germany.

The Associated Press reported earlier today that the Vatican had offered to provide Alfie with medical care. Italy granted Alfie citizenship to try to smooth the process, but the UK has dug in its heels:


The head of the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital said the Italian defense ministry had a plane ready to transport Alfie to Italy if he were allowed. In an interview with Italian Radio 24, Mariella Enoc, who travelled to Liverpool to personally try to intervene on behalf of the parents, said she spoke to the Italian ambassador in London who said the plane could leave with him in a matter of minutes.

On Monday, the Italian foreign ministry announced it had granted Alfie Italian citizenship to facilitate his arrival and transport. …

Alfie is in a “semi-vegetative state” as a result of a degenerative neurological condition doctors have been unable to identify. He was taken off life support after a series of court rulings backed doctors who said further treatment was futile.

Alfie’s parents, Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, want to take him to the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital. Doctors at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital believe that would not be in the toddler’s best interests, and British courts have agreed.

And here we have the crux of the issue. One might understand if a state-controlled health care system decided that further treatment would take valuable resources from patients who would benefit more, but that’s not what is happening with Alfie. In this case as with Charlie Gard, the government has not only decided to stop providing any medical assistance to Alfie but to actively prevent his parents from seeking care elsewhere. And all this without a firm diagnosis, and with the curious description of semi-vegetative state, which appears to indicate brain activity is still taking place.


Why is it the court’s business if the parents seek treatment elsewhere, especially from qualified medical facilities like Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital? What does the UK lose if Alfie Evans gets on a plane? Nothing, except the power of life and death over its subjects and the potential for embarrassment if they are proven wrong. That’s already happened, as Alfie unexpectedly survived the withdrawal of the ventilator.

This is an evil decision. It should shame everyone connected to the system which allows such a decision to stand.

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