Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Life of a Child

"It's important to note that the courts do not always go along with the doctors, and they do sometimes side with the parents."
"Some people believe that the parents' views are paramount in every case, or that life should be prolonged at all costs, but British law does not accept either of those views."
"The law of the country is that the child's best interests are paramount."
Dominic Wilkinson, professor of medical ethics, University of Oxford

"For the third day now, there's been not one single problem with him [since his infant son was removed from the ventilator breathing for him]."
"It's not a miracle, it's a misdiagnosis [that medical experts have diagnosed his infant as close to death]."
"I'm still fighting, and so is Alfie [his infant son]."
Tom Evans, 21, London, England
Alfie Evans’s family have found themselves at the center of a media firestorm.
Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Last year in Britain, courts ruled that life support be withdrawn from Charlie Gard, whose parents insisted he could be saved despite a diagnosis of a hopeless medical condition. Those same courts, ruled that medical professionals expert in the medical diagnosis and care of children, stating that to keep the child alive to satisfy his parents' wishes would only result in more suffering before death. His parents were not given permission to take the child to the United States for experimental treatment they hoped would save their son's life.

Yet another baby with a similarly hopeless diagnosis, Isaiah Haastrup, drew the sympathetic attention of the public as well, with a growing swell of discontent that doctors could do nothing to save yet another child's life, leaving his parents and the public in a state of deep helplessness and misery. Now another child, not yet two years of age, has brought the public into a vocal debate across Britain where Alfie Evens being treated in a Liverpool hospital has no hope for the future.

The child has been in a degenerative neurological state, semi-vegetative, moving steadily toward death. The only course that medical experts at Alder Hey Children's Hospital could see moving forward was to prepare  him for death rather than continue to prolong a life of suffering. The Court of Appeal saw fit to support a ruling approving care and sustenance withdrawal, and at the same time forbidding his parents from searching for alternate treatment anywhere else.

To prolong the child's life would be tantamount to prolonging his suffering, and the agonized parents may not, under the court's ruling, take their son to a Rome hospital which has invited the parents to seek treatment there. His mother, Kate James and father Tom Evans, accuse three doctors of conspiracy to murder and have initiated legal action against them. Having been removed from a respirator, to everyone's surprise, little Alfie is breathing on his own.

Supporters of the parents from among the public call themselves "Alfie's Army", gathering on a daily basis outside Alder Hey Hospital signs in hand, cheering, jeering and exposing hospital staff to abuse. Alfie's father met last week with Pope Francis who said he hoped the parents "may be heard and that their desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted" at a children's hospital operated in Rome by the Roman Catholic Church. Alfie has been granted citizenship by the Italian government.

The government of Poland has also weighed in on this emotional case with state television in the Catholic country reporting on the child's prognosis and treatment. "Alfie Evans must be saved! Perhaps all that's needed is some good will on the part of decision-makers", tweeted Poland's President Andrzej Duda. In Krakow, Poland outside the British Consulate a shrine to Alfie has appeared with people bringing teddy bears and flowers.

When Alfie was seven months old he was admitted to hospital after suffering seizures and the hospital has since then been his home. There is no specific illness doctors have been able to pinpoint, but doctors are clear that his condition continues to deteriorate and that for over a year he has been trapped in a semi-vegetative state. His parents are convinced he will recover, seeing him on occasion open his eyes, or move his hands.

Determined to believe their child is not as profoundly brain damaged as the doctors say he is, his parents cling to the belief that Alfie opening and closing his hands, opening his eyes with stimulation, is more than enough proof that his condition can improve, despite doctors insisting that what they see is nothing more than involuntary responses, having nothing whatever to do with consciousness.

PHOTO: This file photo taken on April 5, 2018, shows seriously ill British toddler Alfie Evans at Alder Hey Childrens Hospital in Liverpool.
This file photo taken on April 5, 2018, shows seriously ill British toddler Alfie Evans at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool.  
Action4Alfie Handout/AFP via Getty Images

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