LONDON (Reuters) – The father of gravely ill Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old boy whose plight has drawn international attention, said on Thursday he wanted to build bridges with staff at the British hospital he has been battling in the courts over his son’s treatment.
Evans has a rare, degenerative disease and has been in a semi-vegetative state for more than a year.
On Monday, Alfie’s life-support equipment was switched off after a court ruling. He confounded expectations by continuing to breathe unaided.
Medical experts in Britain had agreed that more treatment would be futile, but his parents wanted to take him to Rome, where the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu hospital had offered to care for him.
A British court rejected an appeal by the boy’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, on Wednesday to take their son to Italy.
The case has provoked strong feelings over whether judges, doctors or parents have the right to decide on a child’s life. Alfie’s parents have been backed by Pope Francis and Poland’s President Andrzej Duda.
Speaking outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool on Thursday, Tom Evans said he and Alfie’s mother were grateful for all the support they had received from around the world, including from Italy and Poland.
“We would now ask you to return back to your everyday lives and allow myself, Kate and Alder Hey to form a relationship, build a bridge and let’s walk across it,” he said.
“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.”
Staff at the hospital, which has been treating Alfie since December 2016, have been targeted by protesters, both outside the building and on social media.
“Together we recognize the strains that recent events have put upon us all and we now wish for privacy for everyone concerned,” Evans said.
“In Alfie’s interests, we will work with his treating team on a plan that provides our boy with the dignity and comfort that he needs.”
(Reporting by Paul Sandle, editing by Larry King)