Alfie Evans’ ‘Army’ of supporters have abandoned protests outside Alder Hey – but left their banners, flags and balloons – as his family said today they want to take him home in the next day or two to live, not die.
The much-loved little boy is still alive inside the Liverpool hospital more than 72 hours after his life support was withdrawn.
The toddler’s parents Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, insist their son could survive for ‘months or years’ as they dramatically abandoned their fight to take him abroad for treatment and pledged to work with doctors in a bid to take him home.
But Alfie’s family have reacted with fury to claims that their attempt to ‘build bridges’ with Alder Hey meant they were accepting he is about to pass away.
Mr Evans’ brother Daniel said last night: ‘Thomas and Kate are not “preparing themselves for their son’s death” in no way shape or form, to get him home is their priority and that’s what they plan to do with the help of Alder Hey’.
He added: ‘Alfie is doing good, 72 hours independent breathing!!’
An emotional Tom Evans asked Alfie’s Army to stand down last night as the family try to build bridges with Alder Hey and get their son home
Alfie’s supporters have spent weeks outside Alder Hey but they have heeded the warning and stayed away today, but their balloons and flags remain
The family of terminally ill toddler Alfie Evans have released pictures of the little boy clinging to life in his mother Kate’s arms
Tom’s brother Daniel has said Alfie’s parents believe their don is coming home to live, not die
Tom Evans also had a message for the tens of thousands in ‘Alfie’s Army’ as he asked them to stand down ‘if this is what it takes to get our son home’.
He said: ‘Please respect this. You have all been the most crucial part of our fight and we love you all’.
Until last night, Mr Evans and Miss James were desperate to fly him to a hospital in the Vatican – but now accept their best hope of leaving Alder Hey is getting him home.
Mr Evans said the ‘warrior’ toddler’s mother has been keeping him alive with cuddles.
He said: ‘Alfie’s fought through the night the last two nights because he’s been lying on Kate’s chest non-stop. And him and his mum have become closer now more than ever before’.
A military helicopter had been put on standby at the request of the Pope, who met Mr Evans last week.
But on Tuesday a High Court judge again refused the couple permission to take Alfie to Rome and his decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal the following day.
After a meeting with doctors, Mr Evans said he and Kate James, 20, and the hospital in Liverpool wanted privacy in order to ‘form a relationship, build a bridge and walk across it’.
‘In Alfie’s interests we will work with his treating team on a plan that provides our boy with the dignity and comfort he needs,’ he said.
The comments marked a huge sea change in the couple’s attitude to medics, whom Mr Evans had previously threatened to prosecute for conspiring to murder his 23-month-old son.
Earlier yesterday he had said doctors were treating him and Miss James like criminals.
Mr Evans, who wants three of his doctors prosecuted for conspiracy to murder, said: ‘They hate us. They don’t like us because I’ve fought against them for so long and I’m right’.
He added: ‘We’re not like them. We walk around the corridors and they pop into other cubicles to avoid us. They give us some horrible smug look as if we’re in the wrong. It’s like we’re criminals and we’re being looked down on’.
Alfie, with his father sleeping in the background, is still fighting, his family say, despite a lack of a ventilator
Supporters shared this photo of mother Kate James cradling her son at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, where doctors have withdrawn life support. He is still alive more than 72 hours later
Mr Evans made a plea for supporters to stop their protests in the hope it will convince doctors to let Alfie leave
But by 6pm the couple had apparently decided to work with medics, thanking both supporters and hospital staff – many of whom have been the targets of abuse – and said they would not be making any more public comments.
‘Our lives have been turned upside down by the intense focus on Alfie and his situation,’ Mr Evans said.
‘Our little family, along with Alder Hey, has become the centre of attention for many people around the world and it has meant we have not been able to live our lives as we would like.
‘We are very grateful and we appreciate all the support we have received from around the world… (but) we would now ask you to return back to your everyday lives and allow myself, Kate and Alder Hey to form a relationship, build a bridge and walk across it.
‘We also wish to thank Alder Hey staff at every level for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them too.’
Mr Evans’s comments came as protests and vigils were held in Poland, Ireland and the Vatican for Alfie, who was taken off life-support on Monday following a drawn-out legal battle.
Doctors say he has a degenerative, incurable neurological condition, is in a deep coma and it is in his best interests to let him die.
High Court judge Mr Justice Hayden urged the parents to disregard the advice of ‘pro-life’ campaigners who he accused of manipulating them and to spend what precious time they had left with their son.
He slammed the ‘malign hand’ of Pavel Stroilov, who works for the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), and called him a ‘fanatical and deluded’ man whose advice had come ‘perilously close’ to contempt of court.
The couple apparently agreed with the judge, who said their only option was to work with medics to try to move Alfie from intensive care – either onto a normal ward, a hospice or home – for his final days.
It came as health chiefs warned hospital staff to hide their uniforms due to threats directed at them after Alfie’s case.
It came after a ‘sick’ and ‘psychotic’ minority of Alfie Evans’ supporters threatened to ‘burn down’ Alder Hey and wished harm on doctors as it was revealed police are ready to arrest the trolls.
People hold candles as they gather to attend a prayer vigil for terminally ill toddler Alfie Evans
Another candlelit vigil in support of Alfie Evans took place in front of the Great Britain embassy building in Warsaw
Alfie’s Army have also gathered outside Liverpool including here at Belfast city Hall to voice their support for the child
The Royal Liverpool Hospital Trust has emailed the warning to its 5,500 workers urging them to be vigilant on their way to and from work.
Mr Justice Hayden slammed ‘malign hand’ Pavel Stroilov, pictured outside Alder Hey, who was accused of not having the best interests of Alfie or his parents Tom and Kate at heart
In recent days some internet trolls have even named the doctors responsible for his care – despite a court order making it illegal to do so – and staff had received phone calls from people accusing them of being ‘murderers’ and ‘killers’.
Alfie’s parents have repeatedly urged people not to threaten anyone over the tragic plight of their son because it was damaging their campaign.
The abuse has also outraged the majority of their peaceful supporters who have gathered in their hundreds outside the hospital most days.
In a powerful open letter about the case shared last night, the children’s hospital trust said ‘remarkable staff’ have been the target of ‘unprecedented personal abuse’ as part of the Alfie Evans case.
Now healthcare workers at the Royal Liverpool Trust are being advised to cover up their uniforms and not wear hospital ID off site.
It is understood staff at the trust received an email recommending measures to be taken regarding uniform and identification off the hospital site.
Some of the protesters attempted to get into the hospital as police guarded the entrance
A spokesman for the Royal Liverpool said: ‘Following local reports of abuse towards NHS staff, we have provided our staff with advice regarding their own safety and security.
‘Abuse of NHS staff or others whose role is to protect and care for others should not be tolerated.’
Calling for an ‘Alfie’s law’, Steven Woolfe, MEP for North West England, said: ‘The cases of Charlie Gard, Aysha King, and now Alfie Evans, show a dangerous trend of public bodies depriving parents and families of the right to make decisions they believe are in the best interests of their children.’
Last night there were also vigils in Rome and outside the British Embassy in Warsaw and Dublin.