Tuesday, April 24, 2018, #2
Breaking, 6:45 p.m., London time:

Alfie is still breathing, and a helicopter is now waiting outside the Liverpool hospital where he is staying.

The helicopter is ready to carry him to a British military airport, where a plane will carry him to Rome.

But the British legal authorities have not yet decided whether to allow him to leave the hospital.

(Below, Tom Evans with his son Alfie earlier today)

Ten Reflections on the Alfie Case

1. The courage of little Alfie.

Little Alfie Evans is still breathing on his own as of this writing, more than 20 hours after being removed from a breathing tube last night at 9:17 p.m., London time.

Whatever else now happens, Alfie has already made a statement with an exclamation point which must never be forgotten.

And that statement is: “I, little Alfie, am a fighter… to the end.”

2. The undeniable error of the doctors.

By continuing to breathe, when he was expected to die within minutes after being taken off of his respiration machinery, Alfie has proven a point: that his doctors were, at least in this, wrong.

They underestimated his strength and will to live.

This will remain true even if Alfie succumbs and dies in the coming hours.

3. The lack of credibility of the overall diagnosis.

By insisting on their diagnosis, and then testing it by removing the respiration equipment against the parents’ wishes and even pleas — for the parents’ too believed Alfie would die in minutes when taken off the respiration machinery — the doctors have undermined their credibility also in regard to their general diagnosis of Alfie’s condition.

4. The unacceptable “dehumanization” of Alfie.

It has been written and repeated a thousand times that Alfie is in a “vegetative” state.

That “70% of his brain” has been “destroyed.”

That Alfie is, in a profound way, no longer a human being, but only, now, a “vegetable.”

Lacking the characteristic mental functions of a human being. Therefore, a “sub-human,” a being who has (tragically, perhaps, it may be admitted) “fallen beneath the threshold” of being “human” because of his illness.

This is said to be the sad but undeniable “truth” about his case.

And because this is the sad but undeniable truth, all those who do not accept the conclusion — that Alfie has already ceased to be human, and so to allow, or assist, his physical death is not in any way immoral, but only the logical (if sad) conclusion any “reasonable” person should draw — are “unreasonable,” with the implication that they are “fanatics.”

And the repetition of this affirmation, that Alfie is in an irreversible vegetative state, has led many to be persuaded that his parents, Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, moved by the understandable — but ultimately unreasonable and excessive — love of any parent for their child, and his small “army” of defenders, are — in some fundamental way, in the final analysis — “unreasonable” people.

Unable to “accept reality.”

Unable to accept a medical “fact” that, in its most crude form, is expressed in this way: “Alfie is a vegetable, not a human being.”

And more, can never be anything other than a vegetable — can never return to being a “human being.”

This is the total “dehumanization” of Alfie that has been accomplished.

And this is one of the most horrifying aspects of this case.


5. Alfie is not a vegetable!

He is a very sick little boy… but not a vegetable… not a carrot, or a pea-pod, or a zucchini or yellow squash…

He is a human boy, he has a name, and he therefore has the inalienable dignity and rights of every human being…

6. And he opens his eyes!

The impression given by much of the coverage of this story is that Alfie is lying in a coma, silent, unmoving, on the very edge of death, and has been lying in a coma for a year and a half… and that his loving parents are really unrealistic when they continue to seek ways to care for him, and possibly even to bring him back into a state of consciousness.

But this impression is not accurate!

There is a video taken by his parents just a few hours ago after the breathing apparatus was removed which shows Alfie… opening his eyes!

And looking into the eyes of his father, who is calling his name!

Is there a flicker of recognition in Alfie’s eyes, when he sees his father?

You be the judge… Here is a link to that video (link).

And there is a second video from April 20, just four days ago, showing Tom Evans talking to his son just after his flight to Rome to see Pope Francis, and showing little Alfie opening his eyes and staring, evidently with a kind of recognition (I would argue, after watching the video several times) into his father’s eyes.

Here is that video (link).

7. Vaccinations, medications for epileptic seizures, and antibiotics.

In reporting on this story, there has been relatively little coverage of three “facts”: that Alfie received

(a) “many” vaccinations and then

(b) “many” medications for “epileptic seizures” and finally

(c) “many” courses of antibiotics for infections.

This issue, for context, requires a brief recapitulation of Alfie’s entire situation from a medical perspective.

There is a summary of questions and answers about the medical issues in this case printed in the Liverpool Echo on February 24, two months ago. Here is a link to that story (link).

And here is that story, which is worth reading in full.

There is a brief introduction, then a series of questions and answers. The answers of the hospital doctors are in italics.

The Liverpool Echo Article

Have Alder Hey ‘given up’ on Alfie Evans? Doctors answer your questions (link)

Hospital says why it cannot cure Alfie, why it has gone to court and why it opposes him going to another hospital

By Tom Belger, Social Affairs Reporter

11:20, 24 FEB 2018

The fate of brain-damaged Alfie Evans will be decided next week at another court hearing over his life support.

Alder Hey hospital won a high court bid on Tuesday [February 20] to withdrawn ventilation for the 21-month-old, who is in a “deep coma” in their critical care unit.

But Alfie’s parents Tom Evans and Kate James have continued their fight, and hope a Court of Appeal judge will allow them to appeal at a hearing on Thursday, March 1.

They believe Alfie has a right to live and should be transferred to another hospital abroad to continue the search for a diagnosis and cure.

Tens of thousands of supporters have rallied around their struggle for their son, forming a group called “Alfie’s Army”.

The case has put Alder Hey under heavy scrutiny, and this week hospital chiefs have published a defence and explanation of their actions.

Here is what Alder Hey says in response to reportedly common questions — though some facts and doctors’ conclusions are disputed by Alfie’s family:

What is Alfie Evans suffering from?

“Alfie has a progressive neuro-degenerative disease associated with severe epilepsy.

“Children with neuro-degenerative diseases are often born with no symptoms of these diseases and appear perfectly healthy. Sadly over time symptoms of the disease develop as vital nerve tissue is destroyed.”

“Those affected will gradually lose ability to eat, smile, communicate, swallow and breathe.

“The vast majority of neuro-degenerative diseases are irreversible and have no treatment or cure.

“Due to his Epilepsy, Alfie also experiences numerous and regular seizures, particularly when exposed to light or touch.”

Why can doctors at Alder Hey not fully diagnose his condition?

“It is exceptionally difficult to establish exactly what type of neuro-degenerative condition Alfie has. Many investigations and genetic testing have taken place but we have not yet been able to 100% confirm a specific condition.

“However, we know that Alfie has a neuro-degenerative condition and medical experts from Alder Hey and other hospitals, both in the UK and abroad, have agreed that it is irreversible and untreatable.

“A firm diagnosis would perhaps help us to understand why he has this condition but would not help identify any additional treatment that would reverse his symptoms or make him better.”

Have the hospital given up on Alfie?

“We haven’t ‘given up’. We have a team at Alder Hey of the very best neurology specialists who have made every effort possible to find a way to treat Alfie.

“We have also consulted various external opinions including those requested by Alfie’s family. Alfie sadly has remained unresponsive to every available treatment.

“Sadly we have to recognize that we have reached the limit of what we can possibly do. Alfie’s condition is irreversible and untreatable and we therefore have to consider what we believe is in his best interests.”

What treatment has Alfie received?

“Alfie has received the full support of Alder Hey’s medical and nursing teams since being admitted. He has received numerous antibiotics for infections and a significant number of anti-epileptic medications to treat his seizures.

“Sadly he has remained unresponsive to treatment and his condition has rapidly declined. He continues to be given the appropriate support necessary on our specialist critical care unit. This includes supported ventilation to allow him to breathe and assisted feeding via a gastric tube.”

Why do some images show Alfie responding and smiling?

“Children with these conditions can often look well and movements can still be seen, despite the destruction of brain and spinal cord tissue.

“However EEG — which means testing electrical activity from the surface of the brain — tests and imaging of his brain have confirmed the medical opinion that Alfie’s movements or expressions, opening an eye or appearing to smile, are related to seizures or reflexes.

“Alfie has many seizures throughout the day and they are often brought on by touch or light exposure. This can sadly give an illusion that he is moving in response to stimulation.”

Why has Alder Hey gone to court?

“Alder Hey is a specialist children’s hospital which means we treat children with very complex and critical conditions. Sadly some of these children are unable to recover from their illness.

“We will always seek to reach agreement with parents of the child concerned. However this is an exceedingly rare situation where agreement has not been reached following many discussions and mediation meetings.

“The clinical team believe that continued active treatment is futile and we have therefore referred his case to the Family Division of the High Court who have determined what is in Alfie’s best interests.”

Why is the decision on his future not up to Alfie’s parents?

“We have tried very hard to reach agreement with Alfie’s parents about his care. However despite mediation, agreement has not been reached.

“We sympathise and understand how difficult this is for Alfie’s family but our clinicians have a professional obligation to always put the interests of the child they are treating first.

“As agreement has not been reached, the law states that the decision about what is in Alfie’s best interest should be referred to the family court system.”

Why won’t Alder Hey let Alfie go to Rome for treatment?

“The clinicians from Rome have agreed with Alder Hey’s prognosis and have not offered a treatment solution for Alfie.

“They have offered to take him to their hospital but agree there is nothing they can do to help or improve his condition. Further invasive procedures have been suggested but they will not help him recover.

“Our clinicians are professionally obliged to always consider what is in a patient’s best interest. We do not believe that it is in Alfie’s best interests to go to Rome and be subjected to invasive and painful procedures when there is no hope of recovery or a cure.”

[End, Liverpool Echo February 24 article on Alfie’s medical condition explained by doctors]


These are the significant words: “He has received numerous antibiotics for infections and a significant number of anti-epileptic medications to treat his seizures.”

In addition, someone close to the family, a supporter of Alfie and his parents, has advised that Alfie received “many” vaccinations against various diseases as an infant, and that “many” vaccinations were administered at one time.

Could there be some evidence in this collection of answers to explain why a seemingly “normal” infant boy should have fallen into a coma?

8. The new royal baby… and the task of science to improve human health…

Yesterday, April 23 — on the same day that England’s judicial system rejected the appeals of Alfie’s parents to keep him on respiration machines, allowing his to be detached from those machines at 9:17 p.m., London time — Great Britain’s royal couple, Prince William and Princess Kate, were blessed with a healthy child.

Congratulations to them!

A respected Italian Catholic editorialist, Alberto Bobbio, connected the two events in an editorial this morning. Here is the link, and here is part of his text:

“Alfie is alive, like the royal baby.

“St. George, patron saint of the English, did the miracle, yesterday when his feast day is celebrated.

“Kate and William were radiant in London.

“Kate and Thomas in Liverpool had tears in their eyes…

“There are thousands and thousands of children in the world in Alfie’s condition. It happens because there are diseases of which we know nothing, diseases we can neither treat nor diagnose, but we still should not raise the white flag of surrender. It always happened that unknown diseases eventually became known. Science cannot give up. But the English court judgments have also routed science.”

So the supporters of Alfie are not opposed to medicine or doctors. They are in fact very science-minded: they dream of a world in which such diseases are understood, and cured.

9. St. George: The three miracles he performed on his Feast Day April 23

St. George seemed to have accomplished three miracles yesterday.

First, Italy granted Alfie Italian citizenship, at the last moment, giving hope that Alfie might be able to leave England for the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome.

Second, the royal couple, Kate and William had a healthy baby.

And third, Alfie was taken off of his respirator, but continued breathing.

10. The changing image of Pope Francis.

Finally, one of the most remarkable aspects of this case is how Pope Francis is being viewed by conservative, pro-life Catholics.

By energetically, publicly, coming to the aid of Alfie and his parents, Francis is now being viewed by conservative, pro-life Catholics with much deeper respect and affection.

Such Catholics have tended to be “luke-warm” toward Francis, because, though Francis has been consistently “pro-life” in his teaching, he has seemed to “pro-lifers” to underplay the need of Catholics to be “pro-life” by stressing the need always to defend the unborn, but also all people at all stages of life.

Last night [April 23, at 9:15 p.m. Rome time — shortly before Alfie was removed from his respirator] — Francis dedicated a tweet to Alfie and his parents:

“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.”

Catholic canon lawyer Ed Condon, a thoughtful conservative (he has also written for Inside the Vatican magazine, link), then commented in a tweet: “The heroic support of the Holy Father for the dignity of Alfie Evans, his right to life, and the right of his parents to care for him, is one of most powerful and principled exercises of the moral authority of the papacy in recent times, and typical of Pope Francis.”

A fourth miracle of St. George?

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