BY DANIEL GAITAN | firstname.lastname@example.org
Alfie Evans, a terminally ill British toddler whose medical case set off a high-profile legal battle and galvanized Roman Catholics across the globe, died Saturday morning.
“Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 a.m. We are heart broken. Thank you everyone for all your support,” parents Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, of Liverpool, posted on Facebook.
Alfie, who reportedly suffered from a rare and incurable neurological disease that doctors said severely damaged his brain, had his medical treatments halted and was taken off life support against his parents’ wishes earlier this week.
Pope Francis publicly advocated for the 23-month-old boy, praying for him during Sunday mass and tweeting about his concern for the child’s welfare.
“I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie. Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace,” Pope Francis tweeted Saturday.
The Italian government offered Alfie citizenship and created a plan to take the boy to a Vatican hospital, but the boy’s doctors said he couldn’t be healed and would likely face unnecessary suffering in Italy.
Evans and James demanded his transfer, and waged a legal battle that made it’s way through the British courts. On Wednesday, the family lost their court appeal against a ruling preventing them from traveling to Italy.
The high-profile case sparked anger from Catholics and conservatives, some of whom protested outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and launched social media campaigns. Hundreds of thousands of men and women across the world signed a petition in support of Alfie.
Known as “Alfie’s Army,” the protesters were concerned that British doctors were out of bounds, stealing hope from Alfie’s family.
Hours after news of Alfie’s death, his supporters gathered in a park near the hospital and chanted “Alfie, Alfie, AlfIe.” Some brought balloons with images of Alfie attached to them, CNN reports.
Balloon launch in Springfield Park. RIP Alfie #AlfiesArmy pic.twitter.com/yxRKbv0QvN
— martyn toft (@martyntoft) April 28, 2018