Alfie Evans, Ill Child Forced Off Life Support, Dies After 5 Days

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Alfie Evans, Ill Child Forced Off Life Support, Dies After 5 Days

By Gabe Geytsman and Laura Lassen

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After being taken off life support Monday, the toddler at the heart of the healthcare controversy in Britain, Alfie Evans, passed away, nearly 5 days after food, water, and treatment were withdrawn against the will of the parents.

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The case of Alfie Evans, a terminally ill 23-month old toddler, took a tragic turn recently in the United Kingdom: UK courts forced the hospital to take him off life support against the will of the parents. Additionally, they refused to allow the parents to seek treatment outside the country for their child.

Doctors, claiming that Evans is brain-dead and afflicted with a degenerative neurological condition, insisted that he would die within minutes after being taken off life support, but the intrepid child has stayed alive for 48 hours. His parents and concerned public claim that the hospital is doing nothing other than starving him, withholding food and water. According to the New York Times, “his doctors have been unable to diagnose a specific ailment,” adding to the frustrations of the parents. The governments of Italy, Poland, as well as the pope, have expressed their ability to offer new treatments for Evans, but the UK refused to allow the parents to seek this treatment, ruling that it would only prolong his suffering.

According to Bloomberg, there is no evidence that providing nutrition, hydration, or even treatment will cause any suffering to the child; the courts and doctors in the UK claim that even if he will survive his quality of life will be so low due to his neurological condition that it is more merciful to let him die. In their defense, “he has been in a semi-vegetative state for more than a year.” His parents, however, point to the fact that he sometimes opens his eyes or moves his hands as signs of brain function that indicates he should be left alive and cared for.

His father, Tom Evans, has told press that he plans to seek legal action against the doctors by accusing three of them with conspiracy to murder.

This is the second time the UK government has killed children against the will of the parents. In mid-2017, Charlie Gard was terminally ill and the UK refused to allow his parents to seek treatment in the US.

Regarding the healthcare system in place in Britain, sophomore Colette Cutrona said “I think [the parents] should be able to decide whether they can take their child off life support.”

“It shows the flaws in the British healthcare system and America is better,” said junior Cole Monisera.

There is also evidence to suggest that problems of this nature are not only limited to the UK, and one such story involves a time doctors and medical professionals were wrong. In Texas in 2015 , a man barricaded himself in a hospital room with his son, armed with a gun, and refused to allow hospital staff to turn off life support. The son was declared brain dead and the hospital was going against the father’s wishes by withdrawing life support, but the son squeezed his father’s hand to confirm that he was conscious, and later made a full recovery. This kind of episode illustrates the problem with putting medical consensus above the rights of families to determine what happens to their loved ones.

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