NEWS
28/04/2018 07:09 BST | Updated 02/05/2018 11:03 BST

Alfie Evans, Toddler At Centre Of Court Battle Over Treatment, Dies

'We're heartbroken', parents Tom Evans and Katie James say.

The parents of Alfie Evans said they were “heartbroken” as they confirmed their son died in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The 23-month-old, who was being treated at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool died at 2.30am, Kate James and Thomas Evans said on Facebook.

The youngster was at the centre of a legal battle over his treatment that touched hearts around the world.

The post on Facebook said: “Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am. We are heart broken. Thank you everyone for all your support.”

Evans, 21 and James, 20, had fought to take their son to a foreign hospital for treatment for a degenerative medical condition, but lost a final court appeal on Wednesday. 

Pope Francis, who had earlier intervened in the case, led tributes to Alfie as hundreds gathered outside the hospital to pay their respects.

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Tom Evans and Kate James had fought to take their son to a hospital abroad for treatment for a degenerative medical condition.

Pope Francis said: “Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace.”

Doctors had removed Alfie’s life-support following a High Court judge’s ruling on Monday, however he continued to live.

His parents said that the youngster had defied doctors’ expectations and they took their case to the Court of Appeal, but the application to take him abroad was rejected.

Tom Evans said their lives had been “turned upside down” by the “intense focus” his case had received.

“Our little family along with Alder Hey has become the centre of attention for many people around the world and it has meant we have not been able to live our lives as we would like,” he said.

The attention and emotion garnered by Alfie’s plight and his parents’ determined public campaign to get the treatment they believed he needed led to high tensions between supporters and staff at Alder Hey.

Bosses said they were “shocked” at the “barrage” of abuse that came from some quarters after they found themselves “at the centre of a social media storm”.

It led Merseyside Police to issue a warning over comments being made about the hospital online.

After accepting that their options had been exhausted, Alfie’s parents sought to build bridges with medical staff and pledged to work alongside doctors to give him “the dignity and comfort” he needed.

He said: “We… thank Alder Hey staff at every level for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them too.

“Together we recognise the strains (that) recent events have put upon us all and we now wish for privacy for everyone concerned.”

PA Wire/PA Images
Supporters began to leave floral tributes outside the hospital on Saturday morning. Balloons, toys and candles were also placed outside, along with Italian and Polish flags.

In a statement issued on its website, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital said: “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.”

Alfie Evans: a timeline

May 9 2016: Alfie is born in Liverpool to parents Tom Evans and Kate James, now aged 21 and 20 respectively.

December 2016: Alfie is taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital after suffering seizures. He will spend the next 12 months there.

December 11 2017: Hospital bosses say they are “liaising directly” with the family after disagreements over his treatment. Alfie’s parents said the hospital has applied to the High Court to remove parental rights and withdraw ventilation.

December 19 2017: A High Court judge, Mr Justice Hayden, begins overseeing the case at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London. The hospital says continuing life-support treatment would not be in Alfie’s best interests, but his parents disagree and say they want permission to fly him to Italy for treatment. The judge says he will make a decision on what is best for Alfie.

February 1 2018: A hearing begins at the High Court in Liverpool in which lawyers acting for the hospital claim further treatment for Alfie is unkind and inhumane.

February 2: One of Alfie’s doctors tells the judge there is “no hope” for the youngster, who is in a semi-vegetative state from a degenerative neurological condition doctors have not been able to definitively identify.

February 5: Mr Evans tells the court Alfie “looks me in the eye” and wants his help.

February 20: Mr Justice Hayden rules in favour of hospital bosses, saying he accepted medical evidence which showed further treatment was futile.

March 1: Three Court of Appeal judges begin analysing the case after Alfie’s parents mount a challenge to the High Court ruling. The family ask for the appeal hearing to be adjourned for a few weeks so they can discuss the ruling with lawyers, but the judges refuse.

March 6: Court of Appeal judges uphold the decision of Mr Justice Hayden.

March 8: Alfie’s parents ask for the case to be considered by Supreme Court justices.

March 20: Supreme Court justices decide the case is not worth arguing and refuse to give the couple permission to mount another appeal.

March 28: Judges at the European Court of Human Rights reject a bid from Mr Evans and Ms James for them to examine issues relating to Alfie’s future, saying they found no appearance of any human rights violation.

April 11: Mr Justice Hayden endorses an end-of-life care plan for Alfie drawn up by specialists.

April 12: Protesters gather outside Alder Hey hospital as Alfie’s father insists he has the right to take him home.

April 16: Alfie’s parents argue he is being wrongly “detained” at Alder Hey and make a habeas corpus application. Judges at the Court of Appeal in London rule against them and again uphold the decisions of Mr Justice Hayden. The couple’s lawyer said they might make a further appeal to the Supreme Court.

Merseyside Police launch an investigation into “instances of verbal abuse and acts of intimidation” among protesters outside the hospital. Judges raise concerns about reports that ambulances and staff were unable to enter the hospital and that patients and their families had been frightened. Alfie’s parents apologise, saying they did not intend to “harm or cause conflict or upset”.

April 17: Mr Evans and Ms James ask Supreme Court justices to consider their case for a second time, a spokeswoman confirms.

April 18: Mr Evans flies to Rome and meets with Pope Francis. He kissed the Pope’s hand and begged the leader of the Catholic church to save Alfie’s life.

April 20: The Supreme Court rules against Alfie’s parents for a second time, refusing them permission to appeal against the decision. Mr and Mrs Evans had been trying to persuade the court that Alfie was being unlawfully detained at Alder Hey hospital.

The parents make an application to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to take Alfie to Rome for treatment, instead of letting him come off life support.

April 23: The European Court of Human Rights refuse the application made by Alfie’s parents, saying: “The European Court of Human Rights has today rejected the application submitted by the family of Alfie Evans as inadmissible.”

A group of about 200 protesters tries to storm Alder Hey hospital, where Alfie has been receiving treatment. Police officers blocked the entrance as dozens of people charged at the doors.

Alfie Evans is granted Italian citizenship. In a bid to facilitate moving Alfie to Italy to receive treatment, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “Foreign minister Angelino Alfano and interior minister Marco Minniti have granted citizenship to little Alfie. The Italian government hopes that in this way, being an Italian citizen will enable the immediate transfer of the child to Italy.”

On Monday evening, a High Court Judge dismisses new submissions made in private by the lawyers for Alfie’s parents via telephone.

At around 9pm, life support is withdrawn by doctors at Alder Hey hospital, according to Mr Evans. He said in a Facebook post that his son had been breathing for himself since 9.17pm.

April 24: Alfie was still breathing on his own this morning, according to his father. At 7am, Mr Evans said: “Nine hours he has been breathing now. It’s actually come to the point where his mum is asleep next to him. She can actually go to sleep next to him. She feels comfortable with him.”

April 25: Alfie’s parents fail in an 11th-hour attempt to persuade judges to let them move the terminally-ill youngster to a foreign hospital.

April 26: Alfie’s parents pledge to work alongside doctors to give the boy “the dignity and comfort he needs”.

April 28: The 23-month-old – who was being treated at Alder Hey – died at 2.30am, Ms James and Mr Evans say on Facebook. “Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am. We are heart broken. Thankyou everyone for all your support,” the post said.

More than 1,000 people gathered on Saturday afternoon to release balloons in the park by the hospital.

Evans and James did not attend.

Evans’s sister Sarah told the crowd: “I just want to thank you all for coming today.

PA Wire/PA Images
People release balloons outside Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool on Saturday.

“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.”

With reporting from PA and agencies.