Pope Francis Calls for Prayers for Alfie Evans as His Parents Head to Court to Save Him

International   Steven Ertelt   Apr 16, 2018   |   9:21AM    Washington, DC

For the second time, Pope Francis has weighed in on the battle to save little Alfie Evans. Over the weekend the head of the Catholic Church called for prayers for Alfie, the 23 year-old suffering from a rare neurological condition who’s hospital is threatening to revoke his life support over his parents’ objections.

Alfie Evans’ parents are headed to court today for an 11th hour battle to save his life and prevent a children’s hospital from yanking his life support because it thinks his condition is too far gone. But Pope Francis urged people worldwide to pray for Alfie as his parents continue to fight for his life.

The Pope was speaking to crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square on Sunday for his weekly Regina Coeli address. Alfie Evans was among the causes the Pope requested prayers for, saying: “I entrust to your prayer persons such as Vincent Lambert in France, little Alfie Evans in England, and others in several countries who live, sometimes for a long time, in a state of grave illness, assisted medically for their primary needs.”

Francis acknowledged the “delicate”, “painful” and “complex” situations surrounding these cases and asked that the sick are always treated “with great respect for life…with the harmonious contribution of the family, of doctors and of other health workers”.

On Sunday the pontiff also prayed for Vincent Lambert, a 42-year-old Frenchman who has been disabled for 10 years. His hospital recently ordered the removal of his food and water, against the wishes of his parents and the advice of other doctors.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis sent out a tweet supporting Alfie. He expressed his hopes on Twitter that “everything necessary would be done” to help the child, who suffers from a mystery brain disorder.

The Holy Father tweeted: “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.”

Today, Alfie’s parents are set to push forward with another legal challenge to allow their son to stay alive — even though a court ruled earlier in the week when the hospital can shut down his life support.

Tom Evans and Kate James are heading to a Court of Appeal to ask judges to allow their 23 month old son to continue to receive medical care and treatment. Officials with the appeals court say a hearing has been scheduled for Monday.

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The hearing comes after a drama-filled day in London where Alfie’s parents relied on a letter from a pro-life attorney saying they have the legal right to withdraw Alfie from the hospital. However police blocked them from getting Alfie and leaving.

Last month, a European court that is supposedly devoted to protecting people’s human rights sentenced little Alfie Evans to death. The European Court of Human Rights has denied his parents’ request in moving him to a hospital that will actually provide him care rather than removing his life support.

Although Alfie’s parents have already lined up a hospital in Rome to provide him with a proper care and treatment plan, British courts as well as the European Court have sided with the hospital and its desire to yank his life support — saying he has little or no hope left.

Alfie, who was born May 9, 2016, has a devastating degenerative brain disorder that has baffled physicians and specialists. Alfie has been a patient at Alder Hey Childrens’ Hospital since December 2016. The hospital has asked the courts for authority to disconnect Alfie’s ventilator.

The parents have asked for permission to move Alfie to a hospital in Rome for further evaluation and possible additional treatment.

The hospital balked at the request. They argue Alfie’s condition is terminal and that the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome can do nothing more than Alder Hey already has.

On February 20, after a seven-day hearing, Mr. Justice Hayden concluded, “I am satisfied that continued ventilatory support is no longer in Alfie’s interests,” and that maintaining Alfie alive on a ventilator would compromise his “future dignity,” mirroring the conclusions reached by Alder Hey Childrens’ Hospital.

Recently, Tom Evans obtained a letter from a pro-life attorney, Pavel Stroilov of the Christian Legal Centre, advising him that it would be legal for him to remove his son from the hospital — but police prevented him from doing so.

Evans and friends and family posted video on Facebook of the failed attempt to remove Alfie from the hospital.

“I have a documentation saying that I have the right to take my son out of this hospital,” Evans says in the video.

“Alder Hey is stopping us. Alder Hey is calling the police. To murder my son. Alder Hey has phoned the police to stop me from taking my son out of the hospital,” Evans continued. “This is my son. Look at my healthy, healthy young boy who’s undiagnosed and is certainly not dying. There’s the ventilator. We have all the equipment.”

Stroilov’s letter informs Evans: “You have asked me to clarify whether it would be legal for you to remove your son Alfie from Alder Hey Hospital without the Hospital’s consent. In Alfie’s situation, that would only be practical with the support of a team of medical professionals with the necessary life support equipment.”

“Subject to that, I can confirm that such a removal would be lawful under English law,” he continued. “Alfie is only in hospital because you, his parents, voluntarily sought its healthcare services. Alfie retains the right to self-discharge from hospital. He is not imprisoned there. Because of his minority, it is for you, as his parents, to make a decision to self-discharge or to stay at hospital.”

He added: “The effect of the declaratory orders made by Mr Justice Hayden in the High Court is to make it lawful for Alder Hey to withdraw his artificial ventilation treatment, and to protect Alder Hay and its staff from legal liability for that step. It is not the intention or effect of the order to circumvent Alfie’s personal liberty or your parental rights. It remains lawful for an alternative team of medical professionals, with your parental consent, to provide such medical treatment to Alfie as they professionally deem to be appropriate.”

Below is the full legal letter:

Dear Tom,

You have asked me to clarify whether it would be legal for you to remove your son Alfie from Alder Hey Hospital without the Hospital’s consent. In Alfie’s situation, that would be practical with the support of a team of medical professionals with the necessary life support equipment.

Subject to that, I can confirm that such a removal would be lawful under English law.

Alfie is only in hospital because you, his parents, voluntarily sought its healthcare services. Alfie retains the right to self-discharge from hospital. He is not imprisoned there. Because of his minority, it is for you, as his parents, to make a decision to self-discharge or to stay at hospital.

The effect of the declaratory orders made by Mr Justice Hayden in the High Court is to make it lawful for Alder Hey to withdraw his artificial ventilation treatment, and to protect Alder Hey and its staff from legal liability for that step. It is not the intention or effect of the order to circumvent Alfie’s personal liberty or your parental rights. It remains lawful for an alternative team of medical professionals, with your parental consent, to provide such medical treatment to Alfie as they professionally deem to be appropriate.

As you know, today Mr Justice Hayden made a further order scheduling the withdrawal of ventilation from Alfie [REDACTED]. The legal position may arguably become more complicated if someone within the High Court’s jurisdiction continues to provide ventilation after that point. However, there is no doubt that, until that point in time, it remains entirely lawful to provide ventilation to Alfie; and that can be done by a medical service provider of your choice.

For these reasons, as a matter of law it is your right to come to Alder Hey Hospital with a team of medical professionals with their own life-support equipment, and move Alfie to such other place you consider is best for him. You do not need any permission from Alder Hey Hospital or the Court to do so.

Hope this clarifies the matter.

Christian Legal Centre