The parents of a terminally ill 20-month-old boy in Liverpool are fighting a legal battle to take him for treatment at the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome.
In a case reminiscent of Charlie Gard’s, doctors believe further treatment for young Alfie Evans would be inappropriate, but his parents have taken Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to court in a bid to move him.
Three consultants from the Bambino Gesù hospital visited Alfie in Liverpool and agreed treatment would be “completely futile” in terms of curing him.
However, they still offered to take him to Rome for operations to help him breathe and eat, which would allow him to survive for an “undefined period”.
Hospital staff in Liverpool say such treatment would be “inappropriate”. Dr Helen Cross said it would prolong his life “unnecessarily” as “his brain is being progressively destroyed and there is no prospect of recovery”.
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre said the Alfie Evans case involves “very similar” ethical principles to that of Charlie Gard.
“Doctors should not be forced to continue treatment if they believe it offers little or no benefit relative to the burdens it entails, nor should they be forced to refer for specific treatments that they do not believe to be in the best interests of their patient,” the centre said.
But the statement added that in the case of infants “parents have prime responsibility for their own child and their rights should not be taken away unless they are acting so unreasonably as to put their child at significant risk”.
Muslim peer: my children benefit from Catholic schools
A Muslim peer has explained why he sends his children to a Catholic school, saying it does not “dilute” their faith but helps to make them “more rounded”.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a foreign office minister with the brief for religious freedom, made the remarks while speaking at the Pontifical Gregorian University.
He said: “I myself am a product of a Church of England school – my mother insisted on it. She believed it was essential for learning about and respecting other beliefs – so I know this from experience.
“And I have made the same choice as a parent myself. My eldest daughter attends a Catholic school and my son a Catholic Jesuit school. It doesn’t dilute our faith, but rather makes us more rounded. The crucial thing is that schools teach inclusivity and mutual respect: that is the key to a tolerant and peaceful future.”
During his trip Lord Ahmad met Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s equivalent of a foreign minister, and other senior Vatican officials.
In his speech he expressed horror at the persecution of Christians, including discrimination against Copts in Egypt.
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