ALFIE EVANS

I’m sure we all must feel tremendous sympathy for Alfie Evans, the Liverpool child who has been the subject of court orders regarding his life support system. Physically he is a nice looking little boy and it must be heart rending to watch him grow as a child should (though perhaps he is smaller? I do not know) while his neurological and mental progress has been curtailed. Who amongst us does not look at the distraught parents with secret dread in our heart, and think, There but for the grace of God, go we; and how would we endure it? We know that like them there is nothing that we would not try in an effort to save our precious child.

We can have sympathy for the medical team too. In all my experience with the profession (and I am by no means an easy, docile or compliant patient) I have not met a single one whom one did not feel was doing his or her very best to improve matters for the patient. This team will have done their utmost to help the child and support the parents and in the end it has all come to nothing.

Clearly it would be wrong to expect the parents to be able to retain a detached judgement in such cases. That’s not what parents are for. The medical team has a difficult task in that it is expected to deal with the parents with kindness and compassion, but to retain a certain detachment.

I am not sure it has been entirely successful in this case.

It always seems to me to be extremely regrettable when such cases end up in court. At the point where the hospital begins to refuse parental requests to take the child home, or to try unorthodox treatment, then I start to lose sympathy with them. They should, I think, show more humility. They are not always right . Besides (and I don’t care what the law may declare) at the last resort (and we are surely there with poor Alfie) – it’s not the hospital who is responsible – it’s the parents.

Surely the consultant in charge should say to the parents (and God knows we do not envy him or her this task); we have done every thing we can, but we cannot effect any improvement. While we can prolong his life a little with life support, he will not get any better. It is our opinion that the quality of life he would have is too impoverished, especially when there will be no improvement in his condition. It is with great sorrow that we request your agreement to switching off the life support system. They should give the parents a few days to think about this, and then they should ask them how they wish to deal with the time from when the life support is switched off to the time of the death of the child, offering them every support.

No doubt in this case and in the vast majority of cases the hospital is entirely correct in its judgement but if the parents wish to take their child home, or to Italy for other treatment, then I think every effort should be made to help them. They are in extremis. Their child is going to die anyway. If anything can be done to ease their pain, then let it be done.   What difference does it make to the hospital?

If you were hard hearted enough you could argue that this case with its many legal battles has been a colossal waste of money, given the likely outcome that the child will die; but faced with such parental grief and anguish I certainly could not bring myself to support such an argument.

PS Alfie Evans died in the night; may his journey be easy.

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About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

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