Second 'Charlie Gard' case unfolds in UK — hospital petitions court to end infant's life support

Alyssa Rege - Print  | 

A second hospital in the U.K. has petitioned the nation's High Court of Justice to switch off life support for an 18-month-old infant — a case some say is similar to that of Charlie Gard's, which drew fire from critics across the world this past summer.

Liverpool-based Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust petitioned to switch off life support for Alfie Evans, an 18-month-old baby who suffers from an unidentified brain condition, the Liverpool Echo reports.

The child's parents, Thomas Evans and Kate James, said the petition came shortly after they told Alder Hey Children's officials they had discovered a hospital in Italy, which offered to transfer and treat the child.

In a letter to the High Court obtained by the Liverpool Echo, Alder Hey Children's officials said it "does not consider ... continued mechanical ventilation nor the move to Italy to be in Alfie's best interests. … it is in Alfie's best interests to be transferred to a hospice setting and to be treated on a palliative pathway with appropriate end-of-life care."

Alfie's parents told the Liverpool Echo they have negotiated Alfie's care with the hospital for months.

"It's devastating — we feel so disappointed. I feel Alfie is being ignored, let down and not given a chance," Mr. Evans said. "Why should we take him to a hospice when there's a hospital happy to take him? Alder Hey [officials] were watching us work so hard to get this hospital — now we've got an offer and a doctor willing to come over, but they've refused to speak with him."

A spokesperson for Alder Hey Children's told the Liverpool Echo the hospital does not comment on individual cases, adding that as a specialist children's hospital, the facility treats "many children with often complex, life threatening conditions. Unfortunately despite the best efforts of our clinicians, some of these children are sadly unable to recover from their illness."

The case has drawn ire across the globe, with critics likening it to the case of 11-month-old Charlie Gard.

Charlie was diagnosed with an incurable mitochondrial condition that left him with severe brain damage and the inability to breathe without a ventilator. Following months of legal trouble, a judge issued an order in July stating Charlie be sent to a hospice facility and have his ventilator switched off after his parents and physicians at London-based Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children failed to compromise on the infant's end-of-life care.

The case sparked international controversy and motivated several political leaders and the Vatican to issue comments on the case. The U.S. Congress even granted Charlie permanent citizenship to receive care in the U.S.

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