Comment

Alfie Evans’s parents have the right to decide their child’s treatment, not Alder Hey

Alfie Evans (Alfie's Army Facebook group)

Every human life is worthy of respect and every parent has the right to make decisions about the medical treatment of their child.

Alfie Evans suffers from an undiagnosed condition that causes chronic seizures. Nevertheless, Alfie is a fighter. He has continually rallied and then relapsed, coming off life support three times. Alfie moves, stretches, yawns, and responds to tickling, noise and cuddling. However, Alder Hey hospital was granted permission by the High Court to end Alfie’s life.  

Alfie’s dad, Tom, and I recently met with hospital officials. At the meeting, we offered video evidence of Alfie’s improved condition, pledges from other specialist European hospitals to treat Alfie and details of a second air ambulance that adhered to the hospital’s requirements.

We left the meeting with the view that Alder Hey had agreed to a further internal meeting where they would consider the points we raised and our new evidence to support Alfie receiving a second opinion in Italy. Tom was overcome at what we all believed was a small chance of hope for Alfie.

However, within a few short hours, and without analysing Alfie’s parents’ video evidence, Alder Hey had again applied to the High Court to set a date to turn-off Alfie’s life support.

But, irrespective of that ruling, the ultimate decision to switch-off life support remains in Alder Hey’s hands. The opportunity for Alfie to receive a second medical opinion and to undergo pioneering treatment in Italy is still available.

The behaviour of Alder Hey and its Trust is incomprehensible. Senior management continue to bury their head in the sand, ignoring compelling evidence that Alfie has a fighting chance. Alfie’s parents find themselves fighting a bureaucratic behemoth with its enormous resources and vast legal budget.

Instead, Alder Hey seem more concerned about saving face than saving a young child’s life. As we have seen from Charlie Gard and Ashya King, Alfie’s situation is not without precedent.

This should worry everyone, but especially people who believe the sanctity of life should be protected until the very last – it shows that a hospital is willing to bulldoze patients’ wishes in spite of what they may believe.

I believe Alder Hey has a moral and ethical duty to grant the parents’ wishes. I’m not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people across the world support Alfie’s parents. The Pope himself has urged that Alfie be allowed to undergo treatment in Italy.  

Time is short. This matter is urgent. Alder Hey Hospital appears determined to ignore new evidence and frustrate attempts to take Alfie to Italy. I call on Alder Hey, its management and board to have mercy on Alfie. I call on all authorities to allow the parents to follow their heart and exercise their rights to decide Alfie’s future and take him to Italy right now. Not to do so entrenches the belief that hospitals now view themselves as God over the family and right to life.