Alfie Evans hospital 'on lockdown' as angry supporters gather outside Alder Hey amid 'call to storm building' after court rejects Italy appeal
He was barred from going to Italy for treatment after the Appeal Court today rejected last-ditch pleas by Alfie's family to have him airlifted from the Liverpool clinic.
Demonstrators have reportedly been blocked from entering as a family friend said doctors should "be ashamed" of their treatment of the 23-month-old — adding: "It's disgusting".
Desperate mum Kate James said earlier that Alfie is "struggling and needs immediate intervention" almost two days after having his life support switched off.
And weary dad Tom Evans, 21, revealed he had not slept for three days as he battled to release his stricken son from hospital.
Tom was due to give a statement to supporters and the media tonight but a family spokesman said he had "fallen asleep" next to Alfie.
It was the second time his planned appearance was postponed amid social media speculation that around 100 gathered protesters were planning to storm the building.
Latest on the Alfie Evans case:
- Alfie Evans' parents lose Appeal Court hearing over decision to stop the tot being taken to Italy for treatment
- The 23-month-old's mum, Kate James, claims he is "struggling and needs immediate intervention"
- Alder Hey's staff and docs subjected to a 'barrage' of abuse, hospital bosses say
- Rumours on social media calling for hospital to be stormed tonight as dad Tom postpones statement
- Alfie, diagnosed with a brain condition, had life support removed at 9.17pm on Monday and has been since been put on oxygen
- Dad Tom Evans tried to privately prosecute three doctors for conspiracy to murder his son, court hears today
- Judge said yesterday there is "virtually nothing left" of Alfie's brain
The family spokesman said: "He has fallen asleep next to his little boy. Both of them have fallen asleep together and we have left alone.
“Tom will be coming out in the morning to give a statement at 7am. Don’t believe what you read on social media, Alfie is doing great.”
Alfie's parents have been embroiled in a lengthy battle for their son – who suffers from an unknown degenerative brain condition – to continue receiving treatment.
He has been in a "semi-vegetative state" for more than a year and is currently only receiving oxygen after being taken off life support on Monday following a series of court rulings.
Doctors argued that it was in Alfie's best interest to end his life support rather than be taken to Rome with the support of the Italian government — a view backed by the courts.
Tonight Merseyside Police warned supporters of Alfie's family that their social media posts are being monitored over reports that Alder Hey doctors are being hit with abuse.
Ch Insp Chris Gibson said: "Any offences including malicious communications and threatening behaviour will be investigated and where necessary will be acted upon".
And an open letter from the heads of Alder Hey said their staff had been subjected to a "barrage" of abuse.
Chairman Sir David Henshaw and chief executive Louise Shepherd wrote: "In the last two weeks we have found ourselves at the centre of a social media storm that has included many untrue statements about our work and the motivations of our staff.
"This has led to often inappropriate interventions from a range of external bodies and individuals, some of which have caused significant disruption to our children, families and staff."
And Appeal Court judge Lord Justice McFarlane called for an investigation into the "darker side" to some offers of support given to parents of terminally ill children.
Responding to tonight's ruling, a spokesperson for Alder Hey said: "We note today’s ruling from the Appeal Court which has rejected both applications to take Alfie to Italy.
"Our top priority is to continue to provide Alfie with the care he deserves and to ensure his comfort, dignity and privacy are maintained at this time."
Before their shattering decision, the court today heard Tom tried to privately prosecute three doctors for conspiracy to murder his son.
Lord Justice Sir Andrew McFarlane criticised Tom's legal team over claims there was "no hostility" towards hospital staff.
Alder Hey has been the scene of protests for more than a week and a heavy police presence has been in force at its entrances.
Lord Justice McFarlane said: “Your client purported to take out a private prosecution to have three named doctors charged with the criminal offence of conspiracy to murder.
“Those summonses were served on the doctors and I hear you say that there is no hostility to the NHS.”
A lawyer representing Tom had argued today that there had been a "significant change of circumstances" because the tot was still breathing despite his life support being turned off.
Paul Diamond said the family should “not be bound by a decision which is now three months old”.
And this morning Alfie's dad Tom said his 23-month-old son is "still fighting" and continuing to defy the odds.
But a lawyer representing Alfie's mum Kate told the hearing the youngster is "struggling and needs immediate intervention".
The court heard an air ambulance was on standby at the request of the Pope.
Alfie's parents watched the hearing via video link as a panel of three judges considered the appeal.
This afternoon Tom posted a Facebook Live video from Alfie's hospital bed to say the toddler's life had been "sustained" for a third time.
He added: “The warrior strikes again. He’s back. He’s just had a little dip, he went pale, lips started going a little bit but he’s back.”
Meanwhile, a German air ambulance crew was reportedly escorted from Alder Hey by police ahead of the latest hearing.
The man and woman, seen speaking to Alfie's family, were pictured being led away.
Alfie's aunt Sarah Evans wrote: "Please continue to pray Alfie is still fighting."
Supporters were reportedly later seen running into the hospital entrance with what appeared to be medical equipment.
Alfie's battling parents vowed to challenge yesterday's ruling in the Appeal Court today.
Tom, 21, said: "The Court of Appeal have reached out to us and said they are going to set back three judges to hear the case.
"In reality, he could be in Italy right now. We all know the military air force are ready to take him and a team of doctors are there."
Last night Tom and Alfie's mum Kate James were forced to help the critically ill tot's breathing after "his lips turned blue".
Speaking outside hospital, heartbroken Tom added: "We were doing what a nurse should have been doing to sustain his life.
“Now they are saying that he looks really good but we all know he should be in Italy right now.”
A High Court judge yesterday made the devastating call to reject a last-ditch attempt to take Alfie abroad — but asked doctors if it is possible to consider letting the 23-month-old tot go home.
A petition urging the Queen to help save Alfie reached more than 110,000 signatures in just two days.
It came as Piers Morgan urged the authorities to allow the tot's parents to release him from hospital to spend his final hours at home.
The Good Morning Britain presenter tweeted: "At least let his parents take him home to die, for goodness sake. He's THEIR little boy, nobody else's. #AlfieEvans"
Actress Kym Marsh added: “Praying hard for #alfieevans right now. Keep fighting little man.”
Yesterday Mr Justice Hayden described Alfie as "a fighter" as he raised the possibility of allowing the tot home or to a hospice for parents Tom Evans and Kate James to be with him in his final days.
He told the emergency High Court hearing in Manchester: "If there were a more constructive attitude from the family might other options become possible, away from Alder Hey?", adding that taking Alfie home had been suggested.
But a doctor replied that there was a "genuine fear" among hospital staff of angry demonstrators supporting Alfie's family — adding it could take three to five days to put a plan in place.
On "courageous" Alfie's future care, Mr Justice Hayden added that options will be discussed with his parents "with the objective of promoting a removal from hospital if possible."
A plane had been put on standby to fly Alfie to Rome for treatment at the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital after Pope Francis last week lent his support to the child's desperate family.
But the judge branded Italy’s efforts to grant Alfie Italian citizenship to see him taken abroad as "disrespectful the principles of international diplomacy".
And he slammed some supporters of Alfie’s parents for giving them "misleading" advice that he said had damaged their relationship with the hospital.
There have been angry demonstrations and attempts to storm the hospital over recent days as Alfie's case makes its through the courts.
Mr Justice Hayden branded one man a "fanatic" who believed he knew better than the law — and warned the demonstrator had come "perilously" close to being held in contempt of court.
Alfie's life support was switched off on Monday night after the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene in the case.
But medics were left "gobsmacked" that the sick tot had continued to breathe for a further 19 hours before he was put on oxygen yesterday.
Alder Hey insisted during yesterday's hearing that doctors had explained that he could survive for hours or even days after his ventilator was withdrawn.
Refusing to accept the case for changing Alfie’s care plan, Mr Justice Hayden said: “There is capacity for something of his brain stem to generate breathing.
“But there is no sense of touch or taste or hearing and the brain remains predominantly water.”
Lawyer Paul Diamond argued that it was not in Alfie's best interests to be left at Alder Hey.
He said Alfie should be flown abroad — with an air ambulance gifted by the Italian government ready to take him.
But frustrated at the emotive language used in court by the Evans' barrister, Mr Justice Hayden said: "You do not have the moral high ground in this court".
Responding to the ruling, Alder Hey said last night: "This evening the High Court again ruled that it is in Alfie's best interests to continue with the end of life care plan developed by the clinical team who have cared for him throughout.
"Our top priority therefore remains in ensuring Alfie receives the care he deserves to ensure his comfort, dignity and privacy are maintained throughout.
"This includes working closely with Kate and Tom as they spend this precious time together with him.
"We would be grateful if respect and consideration is shown to all our staff, patients and families at the hospital at this difficult time."
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