A statement from Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where the boy was treated, said staff expressed their 'heartfelt sympathy'
Alfie Evans, the toddler at the centre of a protracted legal battle, has died, his parents have said.
The boy died in the early hours of Saturday morning at Alder Hey Children's hospital in Liverpool.
Announcing the news on Facebook, the boy’s father, Tom Evans, wrote: “Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30am. We are heart broken. Thank you everyone for all your support.”
Alfie Evans has been at the centre of a bitter legal dispute over his life-support treatment. His ventilation was withdrawn on Monday after a last-minute appeal to the high court by his parents was turned down.A statement from Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where the toddler was treated, said staff expressed their "heartfelt sympathy".
"All of us feel deeply for Alfie, Kate, Tom and his whole family and our thoughts are with them. This has been a devastating journey for them,” it said.Pope Francis, who met with Tom Evans last week, signalled his support for the Bambino Gesu to care for the toddler, also responded to the news today. "I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie," he tweeted. "Today I pray especially for his parents as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace."
The 23-month-old, who suffers from a degenerative neurological condition, has been in a coma at the hospital for more than a year.His parents, Kate James, 20, and Tom Evans, 21, wanted to fly the toddler to the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu hospital who had offered to continue his palliative care, but this was rejected by doctors who said continuing treatment was "not in Alfie's best interests”. British judges have repeatedly ruled against the child’s parents wish to take their son to Rome and the pair lost cases in the high court, court of appeal, supreme court and European court of human rights.
The case has attracted widespread media attention and has been taken up by pro-life groups and parental rights campaigners. There has been fierce criticism of Alder Hey’s staff with angry protesters trying to storm inside the hospital on Monday.
Later this week, the Liverpool hospital issued an open letter describing some of the abuse they and staff have suffered, and thanking Merseyside Police, who also issued a statement of their own warning that they are monitoring social media posts on the case.
But, on Thursday, Tom Evans apologised to the hospital and pledged to work alongside doctors to give their son the “the dignity and comfort” he needed.
Mr Evans said: “We ... thank Alder Hey staff at every level for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them too.
“Together we recognise the strains recent events have put upon us all and we now wish for privacy for everyone concerned.
"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," Mr Evans said.
The Archbishop of Liverpool today offered his deepest sympathies to the parents of Alfie Evans while thanking Alder Hey hospital for their "professional care" of the child.
‘I would like to express my deepest sympathy at this moment of loss to Tom and Kate as we hold little Alfie in our prayers," he said in a statement issued today. "All who have been touched by the story of this little boy’s heroic struggle for life will feel this loss deeply. But as a Christian Alfie has the promises of God, who is love, to welcome him into his heavenly home."
Striking a conciliatory tone, the archbishop added that while the intense discussion about Alfie across social media had been "difficult" all those who had played a part in the little boy's life and sought to act in his interests. "Although the past few weeks have been difficult with much activity on social media, we must recognise that all who have played a part in Alfie’s life have wanted to act for his good, as they see it.
Above all, we must thank Tom and Kate for their unstinting love of their son, and the staff at Alder Hey Hospital for their professional care of Alfie. Now it is time for us to give Tom and Kate space to grieve their son’s death and offer our prayers for him and consolation for all."