As an NHS palliative care doctor, I say: let Alfie Evans die with dignity

Source: The Guardian

The British toddler’s illness is terminal, and helping his family come to terms with that is the job of his doctors and carers

 Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor

Protesters and police at Alder Hey children’s hospital, Liverpool, on 23 April.
 Protesters and police at Alder Hey children’s hospital, Liverpool, on 23 April. ‘Alfie’s doctors, already subjected to death threats, have been described online as pursuing ‘a court-ordered execution’.’ Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Of all the comments from all the opportunists seeking to make political capital from a dying child, the most asinine, surely, comes from former US congressman Joe Walsh. The talk radio provocateur took to Twitter this week to ask: “Why does an American need an AR-15?” His answer: “To make sure what’s happening to #AlfieEvans never happens here. That’s why.” As an NHS palliative care doctor, I assume Walsh is advocating semi-automatic assault rifles to protect against people like me. As a mother, I can scarcely comprehend someone using a child’s plight to make a case for the weapons used in many of America’s bloodiest school shootings.

Liverpool toddler Alfie Evans has spent most of his desperately short life reliant on mechanical ventilation in a neonatal intensive care unit. Born apparently healthy, he has never toddled and never will. A progressive neurodegenerative disorder has so corroded his brain that, in the words of high court judge, Mr Justice Hayden, a recent MRI scan shows “a brain that had been almost entirely wiped out”, leaving Alfie in a semi-vegetative state. The family division of the high court has rejected multiple legal challenges from Alfie’s parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, to prevent Alder Hey children’s hospital withdrawing Alfie’s treatment and to fly him to Bambino Gesù, a paediatric hospital in the Vatican. Accordingly, against parental wishes, Alfie has now been detached from his ventilator, with palliative care plans in place to ensure his comfort.

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Categories: Europe, Health, The Muslim Times, UK

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