Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old U.K. toddler whose life support was shut off by doctors with Britain’s NHS in spite of his parents’ wishes and an international legal battle, died early Saturday morning, the BBC reports.
The news was reported in heartbreaking statements from Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James.
“My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30. I love you my guy,” Evans wrote on his Facebook page.
“Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am,” James wrote. “We are heart broken. Thank you everyone for all your support.”
We're heartbroken, say the parents of 23-month-old Alfie Evans, as they announce that the toddler died overnight https://t.co/HuaJV9UFIE
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) April 28, 2018
Alfie had been in a Liverpool hospital with a rare degenerative neurological disease since December of 2016, when he had started having seizures.
The staff at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital had refused the parent’s wishes and had wanted to take the child off of the ventilator that kept him alive.
A series of legal battles followed, with a British High Court ruling that the NHS could remove Alfie from life support and European Union courts refusing to intervene.
However, Pope Francis took an active interest in the case and, in an unprecedented move, Italy granted Alfie citizenship in the hopes that that he would be transferred to the Vatican-run Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome. In fact, Italian officials even stated that they would be willing to take other unprecedented moves were Alfie not transferred, as well.
“If you remove the ventilator from Alfie Evans, we will file a complaint against you for the murder of an Italian citizen,” a statement from the Italian Embassy in London read, a Rome-based journalist for Italian newspaper Il Foglio reported.
Despite the pressure from the Italian government and a horde of protesters — both physically at the hospital and around the world — officials at Alder Hey said that continuing treatment was “not in Alfie’s best interests” and “unkind and inhumane,” given the “catastrophic degradation of his brain tissue.”
And thus we have come to this, again: a place where yet another child has been pulled from life support and killed by government fiat when there was money available and doctors willing to treat him. You would think that the NHS, Britain’s nationalized health care service, would have learned their lesson the first time around with Charlie Gard. Nope.
As morning breaks on the first day that Alfie’s parents will spend without their child in the world, there are really no words for them, nor any for those who value life and still believe it has intrinsic value.
However, those who have defended the NHS’s actions and have said that opponents of socialized medicine have used the sympathy for Alfie’s parents as a trojan horse to attack single-payer health care, let me say this in closing.
You can posit that the odds for a cure for Alfie were astronomical. (They were.) You can posit that the NHS is an amazingly well-run health care service that meets the needs of those it serves and saves lives that would be lost were the system to be privatized. (It isn’t and it doesn’t, both in italics.)
However, what you cannot posit is that it gives parents the most basic right any parent should be able to have: the autonomy to make health care decisions for their child when there are options available. That most elemental of freedoms has been ceded to the state, where respect for human life ends when medical bureaucrats decide it’s time for their son or daughter to “die with dignity” because they’ve become a burden. These are the “death panels” we were assured were just a conservative conspiracy.
When that right goes, you can bet other rights will, too — very slowly, of course, but all in the name of concepts like “dignity” and “progress.” While the grade may not be steep, this is still a long and slippery slope Britain and humanity is on, upon which the life and death of Alfie Evans is just another sad waypoint.
Rest in peace, Alfie.
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