On April 28th, 2018, Alfie Evans died before celebrating his second birthday. He died because the hospital removed life support from him. Why? Because they deemed his condition terminal and further claimed that supporting his life was “unkind and inhumane.” In short, the hospital could have prevented Alfie’s immediate death but decided not to because his life was no longer worth saving.
Aflie was born in May 2016, but he soon experienced seizures. By December of that year, his parents had admitted him to Alder Hey Hospital. Doctors confirmed that Alfie had serious brain damage and likely could not survive without medical assistance.
In light of this, Doctors advised taking Alfie off life support in early 2017. The BBC explains, “Alder Hey Hospital said scans showed “catastrophic degradation of his brain tissue” and that further treatment was not only ‘futile’ but also ‘unkind and inhumane’.”
Alfie’s parents did not agree with the hospital. And so his parents took the case to court but were defeated. The court agreed with the hospital against the parents on February 20th, 2018.
The Italian Option
April 23rd of 2018, the Alder Hey Hospital removed Alfie’s life support. On the same day, Italy granted Alfie Italian citizenship. The plan was to evacuate Alfie to a hospital in Italy. “However,” explains the BBC, “two days later the Court of Appeal upheld a ruling preventing the toddler from travelling abroad after life support was withdrawn.”
The BBC explains, “His parents, who live in Bootle, wanted to fly the toddler to an Italian hospital, but this was rejected by doctors who said continuing treatment was ‘not in Alfie’s best interests’.” So the interests of Alfie’s parents and the state conflicted. And despite Italy’s offer to help Alfie, the state won.
Alfie’s life needed to end. And according to the doctors and the state, letting Alfie life was cruel.
After five days of living without life support, Alfie died on April 28, 2018. The tragic story of Alfie came to end. The state ruled that his life was not worth saving, and so he died.
The story of Alfie is a sad one. It shows how the interests of parents and the of the state don’t always coincide. And when the state has power over the family, the states wins. While Aflie would almost certainly have died on his own, shouldn’t the parents be allowed to protect him? Shouldn’t they be allowed to take him home, to take him to Italy?
It also shows how people still have compassion and care; the Alfie Army supported Alfie and his family in large numbers (online and in person). People were moved by the plight of Alfie, and they desired the best care possible for him.
Finally, this story should give parents pause. A parent’s right to protect his or her child from death may not be as strong as the state’s right to let the child die. Understandably, Alfie would have died. But is his life not worth lengthening? Is this really the world that we want to live in?