04:27, April 13 33 0 theguardian.com

2018-04-13 04:27:22
Liverpool protest held over withdrawal of toddler's life support

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside a hospital in Liverpool to protest against the decision to turn off the life support of a seriously ill baby.

The demonstration, which closed roads around Alder Hey hospital on Thursday night, was to challenge a high court judge who ruled that further treatment would harm the future dignity of 23-month-old Alfie Evans.

The baby’s father, Tom Evans, said he had air ambulance on standby to fly his son for treatment in Rome but that police prevented him from taking Alfie out of the hospital.

The demonstration came a day after a judge endorsed an end-of-life care plan for Alfie drawn up by specialists.

Mr Justice Hayden described what had happened to Alfie as profoundly unfair but accepted medical evidence that showed further treatment was futile.

Footage posted online showed Alfie’s parents receiving huge applause as they joined the significant crowd of protesters who were chanting Alfie’s name.

A video posted on Facebook showed Alfie’s father filming his son in the hospital and holding a letter he said states he has the right to leave with his child. The words “Christian Legal Centre” can be seen at the top of the letter.

“I have documentation that says I have the right to take my son out of the hospital. I have the right to take my son out of this hospital,” he says in the video. Evans said the documentation proves he is allowed to leave legally, and that he has removed the duty of care and given it to their air ambulance company.

“Alder Hey have phoned the police to stop me from taking my son out of the hospital. This is my son. Look at my healthy, healthy young boy who is undiagnosed, who is certainly not dying,” he said.

During the clip of about two and a half minutes he also encouraged people to come to the hospital to stand outside and “tell them to release our son” in a “quiet protest”.

He added: “They have phoned the police over a child … Look how innocent the boy is, look at him, he lies there eagerly waiting for his trip home. How can this come to this?”

Merseyside police said the protest was peaceful but “did cause significant traffic disruption and inconvenience for other people trying to access the hospital”.

Alfie’s parents, who are both in their 20s and from Liverpool, have lost treatment fights in the high court, court of appeal, supreme court and European court of human rights.

Alfie is in a semi-vegetative state and has a degenerative neurological condition that has never been definitively diagnosed by doctors.

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