Terminally ill British toddler at center of legal battle dies

Alfie Evans the 23-month-old boy whose rare degenerative brain condition sparked a long legal battle over whether his life support should be withdrawn

He suffered from a rare degenerative condition that left him in a semi-vegetative state for more than a year.

Despite a series of legal tussles including the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, successive judges agreed Alfie had been given "world-class" healthcare but his brain was so damaged that further treatment was "futile" and it was in his best interests to withdraw life support, against his parents' wishes. His father, Thomas Evans, posted: "My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30 absolutely heartbroken I LOVE YOU MY GUY".

"Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 a.m".

"The story of Alfie Evans is heartbreaking and we extend our deepest sympathies to Thomas Evans and Kate James, who must now cope with the intentional death of their baby boy".

The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome offered to care for Alfie, although doctors who examined him said not much could be done but to make him comfortable. High Court Justice Anthony Hayden dismissed the parents' case, saying his ruling was "the final chapter in the life of this extraordinary little boy".

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Pope Francis tweeted he was "deeply moved" to learn Alfie had died. It was started by family friend Kayleigh Price on Change.org, begins: 'We the undersigned humbly petition Your Majesty for protection of life and liberty of your 23-month-old subject Alfie Evans'.

Protesters, nicknamed "Alfie's Army", had taken up the boy's case, and even tried to rush the hospital after he was taken off life support.

"Let's be clear: Alfie Evans was sentenced to death by Britain's National Health System and the High Court".

Alfie's father Tom Evans spent the last 10 minutes of the 23-month-old little boys life desperately trying to revive him with mouth to mouth.

Members of the so-called Alfie's Army have been doctoring pictures of Alfie in Facebook tributes posted after he died on Saturday.

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The Italian government had gone as far as to grant the boy citizenship in the hope that his transfer to an Italian hospital would be approved.

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Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool said he discussed the case personally with the pope and has assured him that Alder Hey had done everything "humanly possible" to help Alfie, according to an April 25 report in The Tablet magazine.

Rallies in support of Alfie's parents have been held throughout the week in London, Washington, D.C., NY and the Vatican, with pilgrims gathering to pray the rosary in St. Peter's Square each night leading up to the toddler's death. "Sadly, many of us are also becoming increasingly familiar with the need to engage with the courts where we are unable to reach a consensus with children's families in similar scenarios", wrote the U.K.'s Paediatric Care Society in a letter of support to the hospital in Liverpool.

The family's lawyer claimed in court Tuesday that Alfie was doing "significantly better" than previously believed. Charlie's parents ultimately gave up their fight to take the baby to the US for experimental therapy to prolong his life, saying there wasn't a realistic chance of saving him.

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