LEICESTER, United Kingdom – The parents of Alfie Evans are making an appeal to Britain’s Supreme Court in order to try and keep their son on life support.
On Monday, the latest in a series of court defeats for the couple, the UK Court of Appeal refused to overrule a High Court decision to allow the boy to travel to Italy to be treated by the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù children’s hospital.
“We cannot have a kind of legal ‘Groundhog Day’ where you come back again and again and again on the same point,” said Sir Nigel Davis, the appellate judge.
Tom Evans and Kate James, the boy’s parents, said they’ll never “give up fighting,” and have transport ready to take Alfie to Italy, where the Vatican-owned hospital has already agreed to admit the child.
“We are ready to welcome Alfie, as we do with many children who come here from all over the world. We certainly do not promise to heal him, but to take care of him without overly aggressive treatment,” said Mariella Enoc, the president of Bambino Gesù.
Alfie has an undiagnosed brain disorder, which his doctors say has no medical cure.
He is currently at Liverpool’s Alder Hey children’s hospital, which has argued that moving the 23-month-old boy would be too dangerous, and his life support should be removed and then he should be given palliative care.
In an interview with Avvenire – the daily newspaper published by the Italian bishops’ conference – Enoc acknowledged there is probably no cure possible for Alfie, but the Bambino Gesù would continue to provide a ventilator for the child.
“We do not argue that the diagnosis made by the British hospital will be changed; we only offer the possibility that the child can go on living. It is a bit difficult for us to understand why they will not allow him to be transported,” she said.
Enoc said the hospital would insert a breathing and feeding tube, and that the treatment would not cause undue suffering.
“Today we can treat without causing suffering. The Church does not want people to die suffering; you can give drugs that also make the transition to death less painful. I am not a bioethicist, but I believe that if it can be done without suffering, then treatment is due,” the hospital administrator said.
Enoc also said it was the parents who should decide if their child continues to get treatment: “The parents take responsibility.”
On Sunday, Pope Francis asked for prayers for Alfie during his Angelus.
“These are delicate situations, very painful and complex. Let us pray that every sick person will always be respected in their dignity and cared for in a way adapted to their condition, with the joint efforts of families, doctors and other health care workers, and with great respect for life,” the pope said.
Francis also tweeted his support for Alfie on April 4, saying it was his “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.”
Speaking to supporters on Monday, Alfie’s father thanked “Alfie’s Army” – the group of supporters who have rallied around the sick boy – and asked them to stop protesting at the Alder Hey hospital, due to complaints from the hospital staff.
”I will update you on where we go from here and if we get permission then that would be a good reason to demonstrate peacefully,” Evans said.
“Me and Kate need to now focus on spending precious time with Alfie and focus on the next legal step, keeping the relationship with the staff at ease and peace and make sure no parents are being affected anymore,” he continued.
“We’re never going to give up on you, Alfie.”
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.