Less than a week after his life support was withdrawn, 23-month-old British toddler Alfie Evans passed away early Saturday morning.
“My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30. absolutely heartbroken. I LOVE YOU MY GUY,” Alfie’s father Thomas Evans wrote on the “Save Alfie Evans” Facebook page, according to CNN.
“Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am. We are heart broken. Thank you everyone for all your support,” added Kate James, Alfie’s mother.
Evans had been in a semi-vegetative state for over a year after being diagnosed with a mysterious neurodegenerative disease associated with severe epilepsy, and had been kept alive in Alder Hey Hospital’s critical care unit via ventilator since December 2016.
Not only did Britain’s court system refuse to allow the parents to continue Alfie’s treatment, it also refused to allow him to seek treatment in Italy. The country’s High Court ordered the toddler’s life support to be terminated on Monday, then refused a request by his parents to seek experiment treatment elsewhere on Tuesday.
“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,” read a statement issued by the hospital, which expressed its “heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Alfie’s family at this extremely distressing time.”
Evans’ case drew worldwide attention because it highlighted the difference between a system that allows parents to make key healthcare decisions regarding their children versus one where the state is the final arbiter.
The toddler and his family had drawn support from all over the world, including from Pope Francis, whom Alfie’s father had met in Rome earlier this month.
“I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie,” tweeted Pope Francis when he heard of the boy’s passing. “Today 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