Exact date will be kept secret
By Dave Andrusko
Mr. Justice Hayden, the original trial judge, today set an undisclosed date-certain when gravely ill Alfie Evans’ ventilator will be turned off. During a discussion held in the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Judge Hayden once again rejected the plea of Tom Evans and Kate James to remove their 23-month-old toddler from Alder Hey Childrens’ Hospital so he can be taken to Gesu Bambino Pediatric Hospital in Rome for a diagnosis and possible additional treatment.
The parents were not in court. They were with Alfie at the hospital in Birmingham. Christian Legal Centre’s barrister Paul Diamond represented the family in court today. The Liverpool Echo’s Lorna Hughes provided an almost minute-by-minute summary of the hearing. In the end
Mr. Justice Hayden says Mr. Diamond’s arguments are “entirely misconceived” because they were comprehensively rejected by the Supreme Court on March 20.
“This afternoon I have endorsed the care plan constructed by the Trust setting out the provisions for the end of Alfie’s life.
“That plan has the endorsement of Alfie’s Guardian, who emphasises in effect it is long overdue.
“It is seven weeks since I declared Alfie’s situation to be contrary to his best interests.
“The parents and in particular Mr Evans has not in truth engaged with the care plan.
“He cannot face its reality and continues to hope for an entirely unrealistic solution.”Mr. Evans had represented himself during the seven-day hearing before Judge Hayden. Judge Hayden agreed with the hospital that although they cannot pin-point what Alfie’s devastating brain injury actually is, his condition is terminal and that further treatment would not only be futile but (in Judge Hayden’s words) that maintaining Alfie on a ventilator would compromise his “future dignity.”
On February 20, Judge Hayden said, “I am satisfied that continued ventilatory support is no longer in Alfie’s interests”
Surprisingly Judge Hayden did agree today to watch new videos of Alfie taken over the last three weeks. Tom and Kate were adamant that they showed improvement.
However when Judge Hayden returned to the courtroom he appeared (according to Hughes’ summary) to be more concerned that videos circulating on YouTube were “at times intrusive of [Alfie’s] privacy” than seeing any signs of improvement.
Indeed he reiterated that he concurred with the hospital’s conclusion– that “Alfie’s brain as we know is almost entirely water.” Judge Hayden went on to say Alfie
“has no say over those videos being taken and put on the internet. What Tom Evans sees, genuinely sees, is not the same as what others might see on those videos and on the fullness of time he may come to regret it.”
In her story for today’s Echo, Hughes including a reference back to a previous hearing in which a doctor gave “detailed evidence” what would happen to Alfie if his life support was withdrawn.
[O]ne doctor (who cannot be named for legal reasons) said Alfie may only be able to muster just a handful of breaths and survive just a few minutes if ventilation were completely stopped.
Mr. Justice Hayden had asked her if it could be a matter of minutes, before telling the court: “What is contemplated is a death that could be quite quick.”
All this came after a highly emotional five days that followed a meeting between Mr. Evans, Ms. James, Steven Woolfe, a British member of the European Parliament, and hospital officials.
As NRL News Today reported last week, there were diametrically opposed interpretations of what had ensued last Thursday.
Sarah Evans, Alfie’s aunt, told the Liverpool Echo an “agreement between Alder Hey and Tom had been reached to suspend end of life care so they can review Alfie’s situation and see if he is fit to travel abroad for further medical treatment.” Steven Woolfe, a British member of the European Parliament, supported her conclusion, adding that
he had attended a meeting with officials at the Liverpool hospital, where Alfie’s father Tom Evans presented what he believed was fresh evidence.
His understanding was that a decision on ending life support was on hold for the hospital to review the case and consider “alternative options”, including taking Alfie to Italy for treatment.
But as we noted at the time, Alder Hey, which is adamant that Alfie’s ventilator be disconnected, referred only to its previous statement about finding “the most appropriate palliative care plan.”
Sure enough, late on Thursday, the hospital issued a statement saying that “[W]e must return to the High Court, as we are legally required to do, for guidance about a date on which to withdraw treatment from Alfie.” They reiterated that they had unsuccessfully tried “to reach agreement with parents about the most appropriate palliative care plan for their child” and were going back to court a date certain to remove his ventilator, according to Connor Dunn of the Liverpool Echo.
Kate James was furious. She wrote on Facebook
“After the meeting today with Alder Hey that we have fresh evidence and fresh material, including a second opinion from another air ambulance company agreeing that Alfie is fit to fly, and if Alder Hey were to liaise with them, they would fly Alfie.
“They have gone behind our backs and at 4pm sent the application back to justice Hayden to remove Alfie’s life support as soon as tomorrow, even though in the meeting they agreed to view the evidence and have a meeting over it.”
Alder Hey countered,” At no point has a date for withdrawal of treatment for Alfie been agreed with his family.” Mr. Evans added more detail on Instagram, charging that the hospital had “agreed to view the evidence and have a meeting over it.”
“We walked out of that meeting with confidence that Alder Hey were listening to us and in reality, they went behind our backs and disregarded everything that went down in the meeting.” The evidence Mr. Evans was alluding to was posted on Alfie’s Army Instagram page which said that Alfie has been “ s t r e t c h i n g , coughing, swallowing, making breathes on his own, yawning, sucking his dummy” [candy]
and reacting to being tickled.
Alfie, who was born May 9, 2016, has a terribly degenerative brain disorder that has baffled physicians and specialists. Alfie has been a patient at the hospital since December 2016.
Tom and Kate lost at all three levels of the British judiciary— the trial court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court. All backed the hospital’s conclusion. Their last ditch appeal to the European Court of Human Rights was rebuffed.
That is why when the hospital returned to court—rather than listen to the medical evidence which is what the parents thought Alder Hey had agreed to—it was such a bitter pill.
In his Tuesday night Facebook post, Mr. Evans wrote, “Alfie’s was having okay couple days u till last night he was having frequent seizures so we sent of sputum tests and urine and he had a urine infection. Part of his right lung had collapsed and his left lung had consolidation on it. Antibiotics and lots of physio.”
But his plea that Alfie be transported to Bambino Gesu hospital was as strong as ever
The ventilator is not A CURE ITS A TEMPORARY MACHINE TO SUPPORT LUNGS
HIS ANTIBIOTICS HAVE GOT HIM THROUGH EVERYTHING 😡 😡
His features haven’t changed, he hasn’t stopped growing, he responds to as much as he can, he fights through seizures without any effect taking to him. …
HE SHOULD BE IN ITALY WHERE THEY WANT TO KEEP HIM ALIVE AND TREAT HIM AND AT LEAST PREPARE US TO TAKE HIM HOME😡😡😡
As I have said all along our son is not dying why should this have to happen to him?????