BRAVE toddler Alfie Evans has been breathing unassisted since his life-support machine was switched off last night, his father has said.
The toddler’s ventilator was shut down after a High Court judge dismissed a ‘last-ditch appeal’ by the 23-month-old tot’s parents.
It marked the end of a lengthy legal war by Alfie’s distraught mum ad dad, Tom Evans and Kate James – one which had been backed by dozens of campaigners in Portsmouth.
But remarkably, Mr Evans revealed his son was still fighting for life.
‘For nine hours Alfie’s been breathing for now,’ he told reporters outside Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. ‘He’s still breathing now.
‘It’s come to a point when his mum’s actually asleep next to him so she can go to sleep, she feels comfortable with him.’
Mr Evans said it became obvious he was breathing ‘within a few minutes’ of life-support being withdrawn, although doctors re-intervened after he asked them to help.
He said: ‘I sat down with the doctor, it was a lengthy talk for about 40 minutes and he ended up saying that I’m right, and I was right, I’ve always been right.’
The revelation has left campaigners in Portsmouth stunned – and delighted.
Dad-of-two Chris Hargrave has been spearheading the effort in the city, rallying troops for ‘Alfie’s Army’.
Speaking of today’s news, the 34-year-old army veteran, of Kirpal Road, Copnor, said: ‘The proof is right there – he wants to live and he is a fighter.
‘We have been saying that all along. He is just showing how much fight he has in him.’
He added: ‘I had probably the worst night I have ever had for a long time. I didn’t want to go to sleep.
‘When I did and I woke up to find out Alfie’s ventilator had been switched off I had a panic attack. I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance. It was a shock to the system.’
Yesterday Mr Justice Hayden had said doctors at Alder Hey could stop providing life-support treatment to Alfie.
Alfie’s parents asked for a delay to give them time to mount a further challenge.
But the judge refused their application and gave doctors the go-ahead to stop treatment and bring Alfie’s life to an end.
Mr Justice Hayden analysed issues at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court late.
The judge heard submissions from lawyers representing hospital bosses, Alfie’s parents and Alfie via a telephone link.
He gave lawyers permission to release a recording of the hearing to the Press Association.
All previous hearings in the case have been staged in public.
Alfie’s parents want treatment to continue and want to fly him to a hospital in Rome.
Barrister Paul Diamond, who represents the couple, told the judge that Alfie had been granted Italian citizenship on Monday.
He said an Italian government representative wanted to intervene in the case and asked for more time.
Mr Diamond said there was now an ‘international relations element’ to the case.
But Michael Mylonas QC, who leads Alder Hey’s team, said any granting of Italian citizenship made no difference.
He said there could be ‘no possible suggestion’ that English courts did not have jurisdiction.
Sophia Roper, who represents Alfie and takes instructions from a court-appointed guardian, agreed with Mr Mylonas.
She said she was not ‘completely satisfied’ that Alfie had been granted Italian citizenship.
But she said any granting of Italian citizenship seemed designed to ‘frustrate’ orders made in a British court.
Mr Justice Hayden dismissed Mr Diamond’s application, saying it amounted to a ‘last-ditch appeal’.
‘I am not going to provide more time,’ he said.
‘Alfie is a British citizen, he is undoubtedly habitually resident in the UK.
‘He falls therefore under the jurisdiction of the High Court.