In this April 23, 2018 handout photo provided by Alfies Army Official, brain-damaged toddler Alfie Evans cuddles his mother Kate James at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool, England. The father of a terminally ill British toddler said the child is surviving after being taken off life support, surprising doctors who had argued he should be allowed to die. Tom Evans said his 23-month-old son, Alfie, survived for six hours with no assistance, and that doctors are now providing oxygen and hydration. (Alfies Army Official via AP)
Court won't let sick toddler leave country
01:39 - Source: HLN

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Diagnosed with a fatal disease, Alfie has been in a semivegetative state for over a year

Alfie's parents want to transport their child to a Roman hospital for treatment

CNN  — 

Judges on the UK Court of Appeal once again ruled against 23-month-old Alfie Evans’ family.

Wednesday’s ruling rejected new arguments intended to overturn a decision by the High Court on Tuesday that prevented the terminally ill toddler from leaving Britain for medical treatment, said Roger Kiska, a lawyer with Christian Legal Center and part of the legal team representing Alfie’s parents.

“We have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court and the European Court,” Kiska told CNN. “We could seek new medical evidence showing that his condition is improving.” Kiska will be discussing future steps with Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, who remained in Liverpool at Alfie’s hospital bedside.

Alfie, admitted to Alder Hey Hospital in December 2016, was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease associated with severe epilepsy and has been in a semivegetative state for more than a year. During that time, he has been kept alive by artificial ventilation in the critical care unit.

“Alfie has received the full support of Alder Hey’s medical and nursing teams since being admitted,” the specialist children’s hospital said in a statement. “Sadly he has remained unresponsive to treatment and his condition has rapidly declined.”

People protest outside Alder Hey Hospital where 23-month-old Alfie Evans is being cared for in Liverpool, England.

Based on “extensive damage” in the child’s brain, the hospital recommended to the child’s parents that active treatment be stopped.

Disagreement between the hospital and his parents resulted in a referral of Alfie’s case to the Family Division of the UK High Court for a judge to rule on whether active treatment is in Alfie’s best interests.

When the court did not rule in their favor, the parents appealed the decision, and after that appeal was lost, the case was referred to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Alfie’s plight – legally and medically – has stirred the British public, and hundreds of thousands have signed petitions supporting him.

Papal support

While the case played out in the legal arena, the hospital continued to provide Alfie with artificial ventilation and assisted feeding, but his doctors said continued treatment was futile and speculated that, if they were to withdraw Alfie’s ventilation support, the child would shortly die.

Last week, Alfie’s father traveled to Rome to meet Pope Francis, who had expressed his support for their cause.

At that time, it was suggested that Alfie could be transported to Rome’s Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital, a Vatican hospital and the main pediatric hospital serving southern Italy, for treatment.

However, a subsequent visit to Alfie and consultation with his doctors led the Roman doctors to conclude that the child’s condition is irreversible and untreatable, according to a statement from Alder Hey.

Based in part on evidence supplied by the hospital, the supreme court dismissed Alfie’s case. High Court Justice Anthony Hayden rejected the plan to take Alfie to Rome and said the order to end Alfie’s life support should commence at 9 p.m. Monday.

In a last-ditch effort, Alfie’s parents appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, which rejected their application on Monday, declaring the complaint “inadmissible.”

At 9:17 p.m. Monday, ventilation support was withdrawn.

Breathing independently

Contrary to all the expectations of the doctors, Alfie continued to breathe independently, according to a statement from Christian Concern, a sister organization of the Christian Legal Centre, which is representing the parents.

Tom Evans also posted a video on Facebook in which he said that his son had been breathing for himself and that the doctors were refusing to give him oxygen.

Tom Evans, father of Alfie Evans, speaks to media outside Alder Hey Children's Hospital.

For hours, Alfie continued to breathe unaided, with hospital staff refusing to help with either ventilation or hydration despite his coughing, according to the Christian Concern statement and Alfie’s father.

About 2 a.m. Tuesday, Alder Hey hospital s