In the first place, contrary to popular report, Alfie Evans is not brain dead. He suffers from an unknown, undiagnosed neurodegenerative disease. His brain, that is, is degenerating, for unknown reasons and at, apparently, an unknown rate. It is most likely too late to arrest the condition let alone to find any sort of cure, but whether it was too late when Alfie's parents first brought him to the hospital is open to speculation.
At various times in the courtroom officials have insisted that Alfie's brain is mostly gone already, that he has no life functions whatsoever, etc. Unfortunately for their credibility, Alfie breathed on his own for more than nine hours after his ventilator was removed by court order the other day, something that is impossible for anybody whose brain has deteriorated to the extent some of them appeared to be originally claiming. Only after nine hours of breathing unassisted did Alfie finally receive some supplemental oxygen and a bit of water from the hospital. He had to wait more than a day, some 36 hours if I recall correctly, to be given any food.
Nutrition and hydration are ordinary care, not extraordinary means of prolonging life. Whether Alfie Evans would have been quietly starved and dehydrated to death like other disabled people whose only crime was that of prolonged and inconvenient existence were it not for the glare of publicity surrounding his case is anybody's guess. Whether some reports I have read that the initial plan was to slip the child an overdose of fentanyl to ensure his rapid demise have any grounding in reality is also unknown, but frankly I wouldn't put it past any modern hospital to resort to such "cost-saving measures" on any of us if they could get away with it.
Something else that must be said is this: Alfie Evans is not, as of this writing, actively dying as far as anyone can prove. He is still able to take water and nutrition and make the proper metabolic use of those substances. He is still able to breath with minimal supplementation. The whole problem here, from the hospital's perspective, is that so long as they provided Alfie with a ventilator, food, and water he might just go on living for months, if not years; and if they had allowed him to have a tracheostomy when the possibility was first raised it's even more likely that he could have lived quietly until his natural end, even if that end came well before his fourth or fifth birthday. However, he is not quite two years old right now, and one can see and hear the frustrations in the voice of the judge who declared:
"The brain cannot regenerate itself and there is virtually nothing of his brain left."
"There is, in truth, with great respect to the efforts of Mr Diamond, no substance to this application, which represents, at least within the court process, the final chapter in the case of this extraordinary little boy."...before Alfie went on to breath unassisted for nine hours and change.
The Powers That Be in the courts and in the hospital want Alfie Evans to be actively dying, and they are taking steps to put him in that condition, but the fact remains that he was not, in fact, actively dying before the adult hospital workers who were supposed to be taking care of him started taking away his food and water and oxygen. He was just living: ill, disabled, unable to recover, but living all the same. The decision was made for him by the hospital and the courts that this was untenable; that his was a life unworthy of life; that it was in his own best interests that he should be made to hurry up and die, since his own little body seemed quite capable of going on for some time yet. He was not suffering or in pain (and claims to the contrary contradict the judicial statements that he can't feel anything at all, not even his mother's touch, and that any apparent reactions he gives such as smiles or eye contact are really just seizures). He was just quietly minding his own business in that hospital bed, but of course a child can't be allowed to do that when the wise adults overseeing his care have agreed that it's in his own best interest for him to die, and to die right there in that hospital, as quickly and unobtrusively as possible before any awkward questions can be raised or any inconvenient realities pointed out.
Inconvenient realities like the reality that Alder Hey Children's Hospital was the scene of a well-publicized scandal involving the sale of children's organs, some of which involved glands taken from living children during surgeries.
And like the reality that four years ago Alder Hey failed four out of five safety checks.
And the reality that Alfie Evans was originally admitted to the hospital in December 2016 with seizures, and by December 2017 the hospital was already beginning the legal fight to end his life without ever having diagnosed his illness.
And now the inconvenient reality is that Alfie Evans is, as I write this, still alive--and the world is watching too closely for the officials deciding his fate to mandate that he be starved to death or given a lethal overdose, which must be terribly annoying to people who have already declared that this little boy's final chapter had been written, and who probably expected to close the book two days ago on his life.
How maddening it must be for all those wise officials to declare serenely that it's in a child's best interests for him to die at once--and for the child to stay alive in spite of them all.