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Infant Clings to Life after British Hospital Removes Life Support against Parents’ Wishes

A message of support for Alfie Evans (Lee Smith/Reuters)

Twenty-three-month-old Alfie Evans is clinging to life after a British hospital removed him from life support Monday against the wishes of his parents.

Evans’s parents lost a legal challenge in February that would have allowed them to take him to Italy for treatment after the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital informed them his ventilator would be removed regardless of their desire to continue treatment.

“[Alfie] is now on oxygen. It’s not changing his breathing but it’s oxygenating his body,” Evans’s father, Tom, told reporters outside the hospital Tuesday. “He is still working, he’s doing as good as he can but we do need him to be supported in the next hour. It’s going to be hard.”

A High Court judge dismissed a private appeal by Evans’s parents Monday evening and will preside over another hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Barrister Paul Diamond, who represents the Evans family, will argue that it cannot possibly be in Alfie’s interest to die in the British hospital when he could receive treatment in Italy, which granted him emergency citizenship Monday to facilitate his transfer.

Attorneys representing the hospital have argued that continuing to subject Evans to a ventilator is not in “his best interests” and would not only be “futile” but would also constitute “unkind and inhumane” treatment. They further argued that Evans’s newfound Italian citizenship is immaterial because “Alfie is a British citizen, he is undoubtedly habitually resident in the UK. He falls therefore under the jurisdiction of the High Court.”

Pope Francis, who intervened on Evans’s behalf to secure his Italian citizenship, reiterated his support in a Monday tweet.

The Alder Hey Children’s Hospital issued a statement indicating they would not comment on Evans’s condition “out of respect for the privacy of Alfie and his family.” Evans has been in the hospital since December of 2016 with a rare, degenerative neurological disorder.

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