Two sets of parents lose court battles over life-support treatment
Appeal judges in London ruled against Alfie’s parents and European human rights judges dismissed application by Isaiah’s parents.
The parents of two severely-ill children are considering their next moves after losing separate life-support treatment fights in different courts.
Three appeal judges dismissed a challenge by the parents of 21-month-old Alfie Evans, following a Court of Appeal hearing in London, and judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, rejected an application by the parents of 12-month-old Isaiah Haastrup.
Both decisions were announced on Tuesday.
Alfie’s parents, Kate James and Tom Evans, say they will appeal to the Supreme Court.
Doctors caring for Isaiah say they are liaising with his parents, Lanre Haastrup and Takesha Thomas, about what happens next.
Alfie’s parents, who are both in their 20s and from Liverpool, had challenged a decision by a High Court judge who considered the case after specialists at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool said life-support treatment could stop.
Mr Justice Hayden, who analysed Alfie’s case at hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London and Liverpool, said he accepted medical evidence which showed that further treatment was futile.
Alfie’s parents want to move him to a hospital in either Rome or Munich and complained that Mr Justice Hayden’s ruling had unfairly prevented them from doing that.
Barrister Stephen Knafler QC, who is leading the couple’s legal team, said “the State” had wrongly interfered with “parental choice”.
But appeal judges dismissed the challenge.
Mr Knafler told appeal judges that the Supreme Court might be asked to consider the case.
“We will be appealing,” said Mr Evans, who listened to an appeal judge read the ruling via a telephone link, after the hearing.
“It’s like a glimmer of hope from the legal point of view.”
He added: “We want to keep giving him options, we want to keep giving him chances.”
A spokesman for the Alder Hey NHS Foundation Trust said: “Today the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment from the High Court that continued active treatment is not in Alfie’s best interest.
“We understand that this is a very difficult time for Alfie’s family and we will continue to work with them to agree the most appropriate palliative care plan for Alfie.”
Judges heard that Alfie was in a “semi-vegetative state” and had a degenerative neurological condition doctors had not definitively diagnosed.
Isaiah’s parents, who are both in their 30s and from Peckham, south-east London, had challenged a decision by a High Court judge after specialists at King’s College Hospital in London said further treatment was not in the little boy’s best interests.
Mr Justice MacDonald, who analysed the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, heard that that Isaiah had suffered “catastrophic” brain damage due to being deprived of oxygen at birth and was severely disabled. He concluded that further treatment was futile and should stop.
Isaiah’s parents had failed to persuade the Court of Appeal to overturn Mr Justice MacDonald’s decision.
They then wrote asking ECHR judges to consider the case.
An ECHR spokesman said three judges had examined the issues and declared the couple’s application “inadmissible”.
A King’s College Hospital spokesman said: “We are now liaising with Isaiah’s family about what will happen next.”