More gut-wrenching testimony in the case of grievously ill Alfie Evans

By Dave Andrusko

Reading the summary notes offered online by Liverpool Echo reporter Tom Berger is almost like being at the gut-wrenching hearing in which Mr. Justice Hayden will decide the fate of Alfie Evans, the grievously ill 20-month-old son of Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20.

Each day’s hearing is more heartrending than the day before. The parents want Alfie to be flown to the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome for possible treatment. The staff at Alder Hey in Birmingham, England, argues that their son is dying (which the parents say is not a certainty) and that it was in Alfie’s “best interests” to have his life support disconnected.

Although an exact diagnosis still evades doctors, they say Alfie is suffering from “a neuro-degenerative disease.”

Today’s hearing took numerous twists and turns as the court heard from the hospital’s attorney, the physiotherapist who works with Alfie, the lawyer for the Children’s Guardian appointed to represent Alfie’s interests in this case, an outside physician, Dr. Huebner, and Mr. Evans.

Much of the discussion, based on Bergin’s summary, revolved around several key issues. For example, whether Alfie could survive a plane trip to Italy. Dr. Huebner, who came in last week to see Alfie, but without announcing he was a doctor, said he could. Others who testified did not believe he would.

In addition, as Bergin noted, “More than one doctor has said they do not believe Alfie can feel pain, but Mr. Justice Hayden appears to have a different take.” The judge told the physiotherapist, “Unless you are sure he is not experiencing pain, we must assume that he can.”

And Mr. Evan, as he has periodically during the trial, lashed out at the hospital. He told the court, according to Bergin,

“We believe Alder Hey don’t want him to wake up. They’ve said that many times he’s going to die.

“They might feel worried in case me and mum give them any grief.”

Other times, Mr. Evans would acknowledge that Alder Hey had done admirable work but also insisted they had too readily and too early decided Alfie was terminal.

The judge appeared to be trying to persuade Mr. Evans to forgo the idea of moving Alfie to Italy and work out a plan for Alfie to possibly die at home.

Bergin quotes the judge saying to Mr. Evans:

“The absolute consensus of every doctor of every country in this case is that we are talking about with Alfie is terminal.

“If we are talking about making him comfortable, and truly have to decide how Alfie dies, what I really want is you to tell me you want that to happen.

“I know you don’t want it.”

But Mr. Evans was a long way from agreeing with that recommendation. Bergin wrote

Mr. Justice Hayden added: “There’s not a single person in the room who wouldn’t want a miracle. We’ve got to deal with what we’ve got.”

He also asked about how long it could take for the diagnosis and treatment Mr. Evans hoped for to happen, asking: “How long do we wait?”

But Mr. Evans replied: “Alfie decides that. No one has the right to take a life from anyone.

“He might be able to wake up to see. We had an instinct something was not right at home, we have an instinct now.

“If we had him at home his brain might die, but at least we would give him that chance.”

The hearing will resume Thursday afternoon.