Alfie Evans, a 23-month-old toddler, passed away today after suffering from a rare degenerative brain disease. People around the world are devastated.
Alfie died today at 2:30 a.m. local time at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, five days after being removed from life support. The 23-month-old was in a coma for over a year.
His parents, Kate James and Thomas Evans, said on Facebook they are heartbroken after the death of their little angel. They wrote, “Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am. We are heartbroken. Thank you, everyone, for all your support.”
Tom Evans dedicated his life to his son and his recovery. He recently said outside Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital, “Our lives have been turned upside down by the intense focus on Alfie and his situation,”
He also was thankful to the doctors, nurses and the staff at the hospital. “[I thank them] for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them too,” he said.
Little Alfie was the center of a protracted legal battle, in which the parents fought for months to convince the judge to let him stay on life support at the Vatican’s Children’s Hospital. This was after doctors had said he should be allowed to die, since any more treatment would be ineffective.
The case was first refused by the UK’s Supreme Court, after which the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) took it under its branch.
The parents were supported by the Catholic communities as well as Pope Francis. The Pope took to Twitter, saying, “I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.”
I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 28, 2018
Pope Francis previously insisted only God can decide who lives and who dies, and that the doctors and courts had no authority in stopping his treatment.
Italy even granted Alfie a citizenship and had placed a military plane on standby to transfer the child to Rome, but the courts did not allow it.
However, a series of rulings from the court sided with the doctors and further treatment was stopped.
Tribute to Alfie Evans
A group of people, calling themselves ‘Alfie’s Army’, gathered in Dublin and outside Merseyside Hospital in Liverpool to release thousands of purple and blue balloons as a tribute to the departed soul.
At the tribute event, Alfie’s sister, Sarah, told the crowd, “I just want to thank you all for coming today. Our gorgeous little warrior took his last breath at 2.30 this morning. Our hearts are broken. We are absolutely shattered as a family. Thomas just wants to thank you all for the support you’ve all shown. There’s only one Alfie Evans.”
People also gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, and in Warsaw, holding candles and teddy bears in respect.
In Kielce, south Poland, football fans held up #SaveAlfieEvans’ banners, while during the match of Everton and Huddersfield Town, fans cheered and clapped at the 23rd minute of the game, which represented the 23-month-old.
People also started protesting outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where its staff was the subject of a “barrage of highly abusive and threatening language and behaviour.”
Alder Hey children’s hospital said in a statement, “We wish to express our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Alfie’s family at this extremely distressing time. All of us feel deeply for Alfie, Kate, Tom and his whole family and our thoughts are with them. This has been a devastating journey for them and we would ask that their privacy and the privacy of staff at Alder Hey is respected.”
Malcolm McMahon, the archbishop of Liverpoo,l said, “I would like to express my deepest sympathy at this moment of loss to Tom and Kate as we hold little Alfie in our prayers. All who have been touched by the story of this little boy’s heroic struggle for life will feel this loss deeply. But as a Christian Alfie has the promises of God, who is love, to welcome him into his heavenly home.”