What You Need To Know About The Alfie Evans Case
Alfie Evans has been living in a coma for well over a year after being struck down with a mystery illness.
The 23-month-old missed many developmental milestones in his first seven months, his family said.
He started making “jerking, seizure-like movements” and was taken to the doctors – but his parents were told he was “lazy and a late developer”, the family claim.
He caught a chest infection that caused seizures and was placed on life support at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool in December 2016.
His life support was turned off on April 23, 2018, after a last-ditch bid by his parents was rejected.
What do we know about his illness?
Alfie, who was born on May 9, 2016, is in a “semi-vegetative state” and has a degenerative neurological condition that doctors have not definitively diagnosed.
After he was admitted to Alder Hey, his parents were told he wasn’t going to make it – but he fought back to beat the infection and began breathing on his own.
But he caught another chest infection and had to go back on a ventilator when he began having more chronic seizures.
Alfie is described as being in a semi-vegetative state and doctors at Alder Hey have said it is in his best interest to stop mechanical ventilation.
What is mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome?
Mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDS) refers to a group of disorders that cause affected tissues to suffer from a significant drop in mitochondrial DNA.
The DNA is found in the mitochondria of cells – an organelle found in most cells in which respiration and energy production occur. The condition is rare and Charlie is said to be one of only 16 people to have ever had the condition.
MDS is almost always fatal in babies and young children, although some sufferers have made it into their teenage years.
There is currently no cure but some treatments have shown a reduction in symptoms. One of these is Nucleoside bypass therapy.
Who are Alfie’s parents?
Alfie Evans’ parents are Tom Evans and Kate James, both in their 20s and from Liverpool.
The couple have consistently placed pressure on the justice system in a bid to keep their son alive. Tom Evans has been particularly vocal in speaking out in public, slamming every one of the court rulings. The couple appear to be religious, with Tom citing the 10 commandments in a court case, reminding the court “thou shalt not kill”.
Writing after judges at the European Court of Rights rejected the case, Tom said that he and his partner were “in bits, distraught, in pain”, and the decision meant their son was “about to be murdered”.
Tom and Kate have suffered a series of blows in their legal battles to keep Alfie alive. They had taken their battle to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal agreed with Alder Hey that Alfie “could not be saved” and that it would be “unkind” and “futile” to continue treatment, but their bid was dismissed.
They had already lost a challenge at the Court of Appeal and failed to have the decision overturned at the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights.
Following one appeal, Lord Justice Davis, ruled that Alfie’s life support must be turned off and told lawyers that doctors had agreed that there was “no hope”.
He said: “We cannot have a kind of legal Groundhog Day where you come back again and again and again on the same point.”
Alfie’s life support was eventually turned off at 9.17pm on the evening of Monday, April 23. However, the following morning his dad said that the little boy was still battling on and breathing unassisted hours later.
On the morning of Wednesday April 25, Tom said the tot was “still fighting”, although the Court of Appeal was told he was “struggling” later in the day.
But by the evening of April 25, Alder Hey Hospital was on lockdown amid rumours of a planned raid by protesters supporting the ill toddler.
He was barred from going to Italy for treatment after another failed legal challenge as the Appeal Court in London rejected his family’s plea to have Alfie airlifted from the Liverpool clinic.
Merseyside Police warned supporters of Alfie’s family that their social media posts are being monitored over reports that Alder Hey doctors are being hit with abuse.
Tom Evans has stated that he would like to build a relationship with Alder Hey, and that the global pressure had stopped his family from to “live our lives as we would like”.
“We are very grateful and we appreciate all the support we have received from around the world, including from our Italian and Polish supporters, who have dedicated their time and support to our incredible fight.
“We would now ask you to return back to your everyday lives and allow myself, Kate and Alder Hey to form a relationship, build a bridge and walk across it.”
What did the Pope have to say?
The high-profile case even caught the attention of the Pope, who pledged his support to keep Alfie alive.
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.”
On April 18, Alfie’s dad Tom visited Pope Francis and begged him to “save our son”.
The pontiff had used an address to pray for the toddler, saying the situation was “very painful and complex”.
He added that those who are terminally ill should be cared for “with unanimous support” from family and medical experts.