By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis on Wednesday tweeted his prayers for Alfie Evans, a 23-month old English baby who is in a “semi-vegetative state” in a Liverpool hospital.
It is believed that Alfie has a rare degenerative neurological condition, but doctors have not yet definitively diagnosed his condition.
In his Tweet, the Holy Father said, “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.”
Pope Francis said he is “praying for Alfie, for his family and for all who are involved.”
Alfie’s medical and legal case
Little Alfie has been on life support at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital since December 2016 following a chest infection, which caused seizures. Alfie overcame the infection and started breathing on his own. But another chest infection led to more chronic seizures, and he had to go back on a ventilator. Doctors at Alder Hey said it was in Alfie’s best interests to stop “mechanical ventilation”.
Alfie’s parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, fought for the right to keep him alive, taking their case to the courts. An English High Court ruled on March 6th that he should only receive palliative care. The Supreme Court upheld that decision, and the European Court of Human Rights refused to examine the case. They have now exhausted every legal means of preventing the hospital from withdrawing Alfie from life support. The British press say this could happen by Friday.
Kate and Tom want to transfer Alfie to another hospital to try experimental therapies with money raised from a crowd funding effort. The courts have also rejected this request.
His parents say Alfie is now showing signs of improvement after having his medication reduced.
Charlie Gard and Isaiah Haastrup
The case brings to mind two other English babies, Charlie Gard and Isaiah Haastrup, who died after their life support was removed on 28 July 2017 and 7 March 2018, respectively. Alfie Evans is thought to have a mitochondrial condition, similar to Charlie Gard.
People around the world have come out in support of Alfie’s cause through prayer, petitions, and demonstrations.
Alfie’s parents had pleaded with the Pope to help. With his Tweet, Pope Francis has brought worldwide attention to little Alfie’s fight for life.