LEICESTER, United Kindgom – Pope Francis has tweeted his support for Alfie Evans, a child in England who is threatened with having his life support turned off, despite the objections of his parents.
The 22-month-old child has an undiagnosed brain disease, which his doctors say has no medical cure.
Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool treating the child said further treatment is futile and wish to turn off the boy’s respirator.
His parents lost a legal battle to move the child to another hospital outside Britain. The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù children’s hospital in Rome offered to treat Alfie, although they agreed with the Liverpool hospital that no cure is possible.
The European Court of Human Rights on March 28 said it would not reverse the British High Court decision allowing life support to be removed.
Doctors at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital said in a statement the European court action “signals the end of a very difficult and protracted legal process. We understand that this decision is very distressing for Alfie’s family. Our priority is now to work with them to agree on the most appropriate palliative care plan and we would ask that their privacy is respected at this time.”
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.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 4, 2018
In a tweet on April 4, Francis said: “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.”
The case is drawing comparisons to that of Charlie Gard, the 11-month-old infant who died from a rare disease after a legal fight last summer.
Like Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans has captivated the country. British celebrities like Jamie Lomas, Dennis Wise and Rebekah Vardy – wife of Premier League soccer star, Jamie Vardy – have been vocal in their support of the parents’ position.
In the Gard case, the Bambino Gesù had offered to treat the child over the objections of a London hospital. Francis became interested in the case and expressed his hope that the desire of Gard’s parents “to accompany and care for their own child to the end” would be respected.
In the end, Gard’s parents dropped their court case, and he died on July 28.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated Alfie was diagnosed with encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. His condition has not been diagnosed. We apologize for the error.