A High Court judge will hold an emergency hearing about Alfie Evans as the terminally-ill toddler was clinging to life today.
Mr Justice Hayden will sit in Manchester at around 3.30pm after the two-year-old was able to breathe unaided since his life support was stopped at 9pm last night.
His family have released harrowing images of the two-year-old breathing on his own in his mother’s arms at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool overnight.
Tom Evans, 21, said his son’s ventilator was removed at 9pm last night but claims his doctors are ‘gobsmacked’ that Alfie is battling on.
In his most recent update on his son at 8am, Tom told supporters on Facebook: ‘My son is still ALIVE AFTER OVER 10 horrendous scary heartbreaking hours. [Pray] for him.’
At the same time Alfie’s mother Kate James posted pictures of her son breathing without help and said: ‘How amazing is he. How beautiful does he look. No matter what happens he has already proved these doctors wrong’.
Medics have given the boy some oxygen and water but Mr Evans said his son will need further urgent medical assistance this morning if he is to survive the day.
The family of terminally ill toddler Alfie Evans have released pictures of Alfie clinging to life in his mother’s arms 10 hours after his father announced last night that the little boy’s life support had been removed
Medics have given the boy some oxygen and water but Mr Evans said his son (pictured today) will need further urgent medical assistance this morning if he is to survive the day
On Tuesday morning, Tom said doctors were ‘gobsmacked’ that Alfie was breathing on his own several hours later
Tom later took to Facebook to add: ‘I fought hard in court for my son because I know what’s right!!’
Alfie’s parents have been locked in a bitter legal battle with Alder Hey, who insist it is in the two-year-old best interests to die because he is in a ‘semi-vegetative state’ and has a degenerative neurological condition doctors have been unable to diagnose.
But the Pope has supported Alfie’s parents Tom Evans and Kate James in their wish for him to be treated at the Bambino Gesu Hospital in Rome and last night he was granted Italian citizenship yesterday in the hope he can still be sent abroad.
Why is the NHS ignoring the wishes of Alfie’s parents?
Alder Hey Hospital has won court battle after court battle arguing that it would be unfair to continue Alfie Evans’ life support.
In Britain the rights of the patient override the wishes of the parents if doctors disagree with a mother and father.
For example there are several cases where Jehovah’s Witnesses are given a blood transfusion by doctors despite religious objections from parents – and Charlie Gard was allowed to die against his parents’ wishes last year.
Alfie’s doctors insists the child’s interests must come first, and that means life support should be withdrawn.
Doctors who gave evidence during the various court battles said Alfie’s brain was badly damaged and his undiagnosed neurological, degenerative disease had progressed.
They said they did not believe there was any chance of recovery.
Alfie’s father Tom says his brain could recover if the destructive process slows down.
But judges accepted expert evidence that his brain tissue cannot regenerate and once nerve cells are destroyed, because they are gone.
Alder Hey, therefore, won the right to end his life.
Yesterday a 200-strong crowd gathered outside Alder Hey and some even tried to force their way in through the doors but were repelled by police.
The father of Alfie Evans has said his son has been breathing unassisted since his life support machine was switched off on Monday night.
‘For nine hours Alfie’s been breathing for now,’ Tom Evans told reporters outside Alder Hey hospital at around 7am.
Mr Evans said it became obvious he was breathing ‘within a few minutes’ of life-support being withdrawn, although doctors re-intervened after he asked them to help.
He said: ‘I sat down with the doctor, it was a lengthy talk for about 40 minutes and he ended up saying that I’m right, and I was right, I’ve always been right.’
Mr Evans continued: ‘They say Alfie’s suffering. Well look at him now. He’s not even on a ventilator and he’s not suffering.’
Asked what intervention doctors had made, he replied: ‘They left him for six hours without food, water and oxygen.
‘I felt blessed when they confirmed they were going to give him his water and his oxygen.
‘He’s now on oxygen. It’s not changing his breathing but it’s oxygenating his body.
‘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 but we will need him to be supported in the next hour or two.
‘Because he’s been doing it for nine hours totally unexpected, the doctors are gobsmacked and I do believe he will need some form of life support in the next couple of hours and I think he ought to be respected and given that.’
Experts had said previously that Alfie may breathe on his own but ‘his respiratory effort will not sustain life’.
The removal of life support comes after the family lost a ‘last-ditch’ appeal last night to delay the withdrawal of treatment and mount a further legal challenge.
Alder Hey has said it is not going to give updates on Alfie’s condition.
A spokesman said: ‘We wish to reassure patients and families attending Alder Hey hospital today that we are operating as usual and that, although you will see a police presence, the hospital is calm. Please attend your appointments as normal.
‘Our Emergency Department is still open, however only attend if you have an accident or emergency that requires urgent care. If it is not an emergency please attend your local GP or visit your walk-in centre.
‘Please be aware, out of respect for the privacy of Alfie and his family we will not be issuing any updates about his condition.
‘This is our normal and agreed practice with all our patients. We would be grateful if you would respect this approach and not contact any hospital staff or call our switchboard seeking updates. Thank you for your continued cooperation.’
Italy granted citizenship to the 23-month-old in a bid to have him transferred to a hospital in Rome, as the Pope intervened again in the case to say he hoped the boy’s parents would be able to seek new treatment.
The Italian Foreign Ministry said it hoped the decision would allow for the toddler’s ‘immediate transfer’ to a hospital where Alfie’s father Tom and mother Kate James, 20, say doctors are willing to treat him.
Alfie Evans’ father Tom speaks to media and a large crowd outside Alder Hey hospital on Tuesday morning after announcing his son was breathing unassisted
The removal of life support comes after the family lost a ‘last-ditch’ appeal last night to delay the withdrawal of treatment and mount a further legal challenge
Police attempt to keep protesters, one pushing a pram, out of the hospital’s revolving door
The Pope, who previously met Alfie’s father, intervened again in the case to say he hoped the boy’s parents would be able to seek new treatment
Q&A: Can Alfie be saved?
Can doctors end Alfie’s life against his parents’ wishes?
Alder Hey Hospital took Alfie’s case to the High Court and a judge agreed to allow them to end his treatment because it was not in his best interests.
The Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights all rejected appeals by his parents, who believe they should have the final say on their son’s treatment.
Can the doctors change their mind and not turn off his life support?
Yes. Alder Hey could go back to the High Court to stop the order they fought for this year – but it is highly unlikely.
The process of gaining a Consent Order could be done on an urgent basis and completed in less than two hours.
Experts have told MailOnline this is the only way he could travel to Rome for treatment.
Can the hospital stop his parents taking him out of the country without permission?
Yes. If doctors believe that any parent will cause suffering to their child, police can be called in to arrest them using Powers of Protection legislation.
In the case of young cancer sufferer Ashya King his parents faced a European Arrest Warrant after absconding with their son who was in hospital.
Alfie has been on a ventilator so would require a team of medical staff to move him and his equipment.
If parents still refuse to accept treatment should be withdrawn, can the hospital end it anyway?
Yes. Police could be called in to facilitate treatment being ended if parents were violently preventing it – although it is highly unlikely this would happen. Doctors are more likely to try to ‘persuade’ parents to let it happen.
If the parties remain at loggerheads for a long period the hospital could go back to court for an injunction and ask a judge to set a deadline for treatment to be withdrawn.
But a High Court judge dismissed a last-ditch appeal on Monday night by Alfie’s parents to delay and mount a further challenge, as Mr Justice Hayden gave doctors the go-ahead to stop treatment and said Alfie still came under the jurisdiction of British courts.
Around midday yesterday protesters briefly blocked the dual carriageway outside Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, and an ambulance became trapped as traffic was backed up.
Campaigners, linking arms and chanting ‘Save Alfie Evans’ allowed the ambulance to pass before abandoning the protest in the road. Then an angry mob ran towards the main doors of the hospital before police scrambled to block them off.
The mother of a young child being treated at Alder Hey said Mr Evans ‘needs to tell them to get away from the doors’. She added: ‘It’s not fair on all the kids. My daughter was really frightened.’ Lawyers for Alfie’s parents have launched a private prosecution which is understood to be directed at staff treating him at Alder Hey.
Mr Evans said withdrawal of life support would be a ‘straight up execution’. He earlier posted on Facebook to say he was waiting for Italian authorities to call UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Judges have heard that Alfie, born on May 9 2016, is in a ‘semi-vegetative state’ and has a degenerative neurological condition doctors had not definitively diagnosed.
On Monday night, Paul Diamond, who represents the couple, told the judge that Alfie had been granted Italian citizenship on Monday, saying there was now an ‘international relations element’ to the case.
But Mr Justice Hayden dismissed Mr Diamond’s application, saying it amounted to a ‘last-ditch appeal’ and said Alfie was a British citizen and ‘habitually resident in the UK’, meaning the High Court had jurisdiction.
Doctors in Liverpool have said the flight to Italy would be too difficult for him and UK courts, including the Supreme Court, have upheld their decision. The European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene in the case.
Speaking outside the hospital on Monday night, Mr Evans: ‘I’m stood here now and Alfie is still here. Why? Because I’m still fighting for him, I’m still fighting and so is Alfie. I have been in touch with the Ambassador of Italy. My son belongs to Italy. I love Alfie and I love Kate, I will not give up.’
Around 100 people remained outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital awaiting news on Alfie Evans while a line of police officers guard the main entrance, with more police stationed at other entrances.
Pope Francis said on Twitter: ‘Moved by the prayers and immense solidarity shown little Alfie Evans, I renew my appeal that the suffering of his parents may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted.’
A source close to the Evans family said a UK judge would hold an urgent telephone conference with Italian legal representatives to discuss Alfie’s plight.
Alfie’s father met the Pope last week to ask for asylum, kissing the pontiff’s hand and begging him to ‘save our son’.
Alfie Evans is in a ‘semi-vegetative state’ and has a degenerative neurological condition
Tom Evans pictured with the Pope, who has thrown renewed support behind the family
The head of the Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital, which is administered by the Vatican, also travelled to Liverpool in a bid to have the boy transferred, saying Pope Francis asked her to do everything ‘possible and impossible’ to save him.
The hospital previously offered to help in the case of Charlie Gard, who died from a rare form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, including in his organs.
Mr Evans’ sister Sarah also emerged briefly from the hospital to tell supporters that Alfie’s ‘heartbroken’ father was still inside the hospital.
Their case went before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after it was rejected by the UK’s Supreme Court, but judges in Strasbourg also refused to intervene, saying the application was ‘inadmissible’.
Following the decision, around 200 people gathered outside Liverpool’s Alder Hey hospital, as supporters blocked the road outside the hospital, linking arms and chanting, ‘Save Alfie Evans!’
Some of the protesters attempted to get into the hospital as police guarded the entrance
Some of the group surge towards are door after protesters tried to block a road to the hospital
Dozens had ran towards the main doors before police officers stationed inside and out strung across the entrance blocking the way, and after after a short stand off the crowd retreated to gather around 100 yards away on the road outside.
One woman described the crowd as ‘terrifying’, saying: ‘Everyone just ran and were going for the doors, pushing police out of the way – but they weren’t going to get in past the police.
‘I understand people want to support Alfie and I’ve got a lot of respect for people who want to support him but I’ve got respect for the hospital as well because they’ve saved my little girl’s life.’
Another woman whose child is being treated at the hospital after being in a car accident and whose son had a separate appointment at the hospital said: ‘We support Tom and Kate but we don’t support them storming.
‘We were walking out and I had my baby in a wheelchair. I was getting tossed and turned by coppers trying to get out and my baby was terrified,’ she said.
Some Twitter users compared the case negatively to the national euphoria following the birth of the royal baby on the same day.
One said: ‘A royal birth means nothing to me I’d rather focus my attention to things closer to home and show my support for Alfie Evans. All the best little man.
Another said: ‘My thoughts are with Alfie Evans today, not the royal baby.’
A large crowd of around 200 demonstrators gathered outside the hospital on Monday
Alfie Evans: Timeline of case brought by parents against hospital
May 2016: Alfie Evans is born apparently perfectly healthy, but misses numerous developmental milestones in his first seven months
December 2016: Alfie catches a chest infection causing seizures, and is taken to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool where he is put on life support. He has been there ever since
July 2017: Father Tom Evans says he is seeking US treatment for his son and hopes Charlie Gard’s supporters will help after he claimed doctors want to turn off Alfie’s life support.
December 17: Alfie’s parents say they will begin mediation with the hospital in a bid to find a way forward without legal action
December 19: Mr Evans claims the toddler is letting them know he wants to live
His parents Tom Evans and Kate James are fighting to have him moved to a hospital in Rome. Today they were told the European Court of Human Rights would not intervene in the case
February 1 2018: The case goes to the High Court in Liverpool, where the hospital reveal the parents smuggled a German doctor into hospital in a bid to stop the life support from being switched off
February 2: Consultant tells High Court that the child is unresponsive, not conscious of his surroundings and cannot be cured
February 5: Parents are told by doctors there is ‘no hope for recovery’ for their boy who has suffered ‘catastrophic degradation’ to his brain from a ‘relentless’ condition
February 7: Miss James tells a newspaper that she feels ‘physical’ pain at the thought of her son’s death
February 20: Mr Justice Hayden rules that doctors can stop providing treatment to Alfie.
February 22: Alfie’s father, Tom, 21, said he would appeal against the decision, saying ‘doctors should take a step back.’
Alfie’s father Tom met the Pope this week. He said ‘Your Holiness, save our son’ and asked for asylum for Alfie
March 1: Court of Appeal judges refuse to give the parents more time to think before deciding on their next move.
March 6: Three Court of Appeal judges back High Court judge’s ruling that that doctors can stop treating Alfie.
March 20: A panel of three justices, headed by Supreme Court president Lady Hale, decide that the case is not worth arguing and has refuse to give the couple ‘permission’ to mount a further appeal.
April 11: A High Court judge endorses an end-of-life care plan for the 23-month-old boy.
April 16: Parents mount new legal challenge, asking that he be allowed to travel, but again lose at the Court of Appeal. Alfie’s parents apologise after reports of intimidation and verbal abuse among hospital protesters.
April 18: Alfie’s father kisses the hand of the Pope and begs him to ‘save our son’.
April 20: Supreme Court rejects latest legal bid for the youngster to travel.
April 23: European Court of Human Rights refuses to intervene. The Italian Foreign Ministry grants Alfie citizenship amid protests outside the Liverpool hospital.
April 23: Alder Hey removes life support for Alfie
April 24: Tom Evans announced that the little boy is breathing unassisted for past nine hours but will need further medical assistance
It comes after a British judge said flying Alfie to a foreign hospital would be wrong and pointless, in a decision since backed by Britain’s Appeal Court and the Supreme Court.
An ECHR spokesman said on Monday: ‘The European Court of Human Rights has today rejected the application submitted by the family of Alfie Evans as inadmissible.’
The couple have argued that Alfie is being wrongly ‘detained’ at Alder Hey and have made a habeas corpus application.
A writ of habeas corpus – Latin for ‘you may have the body’ – is a legal manoeuvre which requires a court to examine the legality of a detention.
It is a piece of common law which probably dates back to Anglo-Saxon times.
A spokesman for Alder Hey said: ‘Alder Hey Children’s Hospital remains open as usual for all visitors and appointments, however visitors may notice an increase in visible police presence in and around the hospital site – this is part of our ongoing security arrangements.’
The case has echoes of that of Charlie Gard, who was born in August 2016 with a rare form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, including in his organs.
The British boy died on July 29, one week short of his first birthday, after doctors withdrew life support treatment.
Gard’s parents fought a five-month legal battle for him to be taken to the United States for experimental treatment.
They lost a series of appeals in British courts and the ECHR.
Around 200 people gathered outside the hospital after Mr Evans said his son would die soon
Chief Inspector Chris Gibson of Merseyside Police said: ‘We continue to provide a policing presence at Alder Hey and recognise the sensitivities involved in this very difficult and sad situation.
‘We would like to remind the public that this is a hospital for sick children and it should not be forgotten that many families are going through extremely challenging and emotional times.
‘We would ask protesters to respect families and staff, including the poorly children in the wards and to ensure that access to the hospital is not restricted at any time, so that services including the blood and ambulance service can run as efficiently as possible.’
Motorists were advised to use alternative routes.