Dad of terminally ill UK toddler vows to rebuild relations with doctors

Tom Evans, father of British toddler Alfie Evans, comes out to speak to members of the media and supporters outside Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, north-west England

London (AFP) – The father of a terminally ill British boy said Thursday he wants to rebuild his relationship with the hospital against which he has been waging a long-running legal battle over treatment.

Tom Evans has been fighting Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in court to take toddler Alfie Evans to Rome for continued medical care, but vowed to now work with doctors to give him “the dignity and comfort he needs”.

The 21-year-old, whose son suffers from a rare neurological disease, lost a series of appeals against the decision by the hospital in Liverpool, northwest England, to withdraw life support for Evans.

The 23-month-old had his ventilator removed late on Monday after his parents exhausted all legal avenues to stop a February court ruling permitting the move, but has continued breathing independently this week.

His parents suffered their latest court defeat Wednesday, when three judges rejected taking the boy to Rome for treatment, despite high-profile interventions in the case from Pope Francis and the Italian government.

However, the trio ruled Evans could be taken home.

Tom Evans said he and mother Kate James, 20, now hoped to have a “positive” meeting to discuss their son’s care with doctors and praised the “professionalism” and “dignity” of staff.

The tone was in marked contrast to previous instances when the pair have hit out the hospital.

Police remained outside the hospital on Thursday, after supporters of the parents have been massing in recent days to protest.

Alder Hey issued an open letter Wednesday saying its staff had experienced a barrage of “unprecedented personal abuse”.

Bradley Taylor, one of the protesters, told AFP he believed the hospital was in the wrong.

“It’s not even withdrawing help anymore, they’re leaving him to die, they’re causing suffering.

“What type of country are we living in?”

Josh Mazaros, another protester outside Thursday, accused the hospital of “hiding something”.

“Since he’s been off the life support, he has proved every doctor and every judge wrong,” he said. 

In a statement Tom Evans said he was grateful for all the support but asked people “to return back to your everyday lives and allow myself, Kate and Alder Hey to form a relationship, build a bridge and walk across it”.

“We also wish to thank Alder Hey staff at every level for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them too,” he added.