Alfie fights on amid tug-of-war between UK, Italy

High court judge sets new hearing

(ANSA) - Rome, April 24 - A tug-of-war continued Tuesday between Britain and Italy over Alfie Evans, a terminally ill British toddler who has been made an Italian citizen in a bid to beat British court orders to let him die.
    As Alfie survived being taken off life support and his parents practised mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, negotiations continued on bringing the child to Rome but the UK insisted it had jurisdiction, well-informed sources said.
    Amid the new developments, British High Court appeals judge Anthiny Hayden, who signed the ruling pulling the plug on Alfie, set a fresh hearing for this afternoon. The hearing has been called in Manchester at 15:30 local time (16:30 Italian time), his spokesman said. Lawyers from all parties including the family and Liverpool's Alder Hey Hospital have been summoned, sources said.
    Italy said it was ready to fly in a respirator for Alfie in a bid to beat court orders to pull the plug, Vatican-owned Rome's Bambino Gesù Hospital chief Mariella Enoc said. The hospital said "Alfie now has a respirator. The Bambino Gesù team is ready to leave on a plane provided by (Defence) Minister (Roberta) Pinotti." "I spoke a short while ago with Thomas, Alfie's father. At this time Alfie has an oxygen mask but we need to transport him". She added "a short time ago I spoke with Ambassador (Raffaele) Trombetta to whom I said that our team has been alerted and is ready to leave in a few minutes".
    Contacts between Italian representatives and British political, health and judicial authorities have been continuing since last night but for now the UK authorities say the child's British citizenship must take precedence over his newly granted Italian one in deciding jurisdiction, Italian sources said Tuesday.
    Vatican diplomacy is at work to get Alfie to Italy for treatment, sources said Tuesday.
    Hopes are growing after the child survived being taken off life support, the sources said.
    The Bambino Gesù Hospital has everything ready to welcome Alfie, they said.
    They noted that the chances of bringing the child to Italy have risen since he was made an Italian citizen, although the UK is still insisting it has jurisdiction.
    Liverpool's Alder Hey Hospital meanwhile said it would not be issuing any bulletins on Alfie's condition out of respect for the privacy of the child and his family.
    It said that Alfie had been put back on oxygen but not reattached to a life-support machine.
    Alfie is still alive almost twelve hours after his breathing tube was removed, sources close to his family said Tuesday. Alfie, who is now an Italian citizen, was taken off the respirator at 22:30 British time Monday (23:30 Italian).
    His parents Tom Evans and Kate James gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation all night after he was taken off life support, the sources said.
    Diplomatic contacts are ongoing with the aim of putting Alfue back on life support, sources said.
    Alfie is still breathing but will need "help" to continue to do so "in a couple of hours", his father Tom told the media Tuesday. This was not what doctors had expected, he said outside a Liverpool hospital.
    "They said he was suffering but instead he is not suffering even without the respirator," said Tom Evans.
    He added that Alfie had not had water or food for six hours but was then hydrated by medics.
    Alfie's mother Kate James is sleeping with him, Tom Evans said. Alfie was later put back on oxygen and water, his mother Kate James said. She added: "It doesn't matter what happens, he has already shown that the doctors are wrong". Kate James said "it is surprising".
    Alfie's family is in a legal battle with Alder Hey, which has been granted the right to withdraw ventilation as his condition cannot be treated and has destroyed much of his brain.


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