United Kingdom toddler Alfie Evans dies after legal battle over medical treatment

Police stand guard outside Alder Hey Children's Hospital

Police stand guard outside Alder Hey Children's Hospital

Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old toddler with a degenerative brain condition, whose case sparked not only a High Court legal battle but also a wave of solidarity around the world, has died, almost a week after his life support was withdrawn.

"My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30", Evans, 21, wrote in a Facebook post decorated with a broken heart and crying emojis.

A woman grieves outside Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool after learning that 23-month-old Alfie Evans died at 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

Earlier this week the pontiff wrote on Twitter that he hoped the parents' "desire to seek new forms of treatment may be granted".

"I am deeply moved by the death of little Alfie", Francis said.

The hospital, Alder Hey Children's Hospital, withdrew Alfie's life support Monday after a series of court rulings.

A statement posted on the hospital website said: 'We feel sure people will wish to place tributes to Alfie along with messages of support for Kate and Tom. "We also wish to thank Alder Hey staff at every level of their dignity and professionalism during what must have been an incredibly hard time for them too".

Pope Francis tweeted he was "deeply moved" to learn Alfie had died.

Earlier in April, Evans pleaded with him to "save our son" during a meeting in Rome.

"I wish to repeat and strongly confirm that the only master of life from the beginning until the natural end is God".

Alfie's father had traveled to Rome earlier this month to meet Francis, who had expressed his backing for their cause, and a hospital in Rome offered to treat the toddler.

Supporters of the parents staged angry protests regularly outside the hospital, at times trying to storm its entrance.

The child's parents have launched a public campaign to "save the son" and tried to continue treatment in the clinic of the Vatican.

British law states that parents "cannot demand a particular treatment to be continued where the burdens of the treatment clearly outweigh the benefits for the child", Agence France-Presse reported.

Speaking outside Alder Hey Hospital, Tom said: "We got rejected yesterday to go to Italy unfortunately".

He died past year, one week short of his first birthday, after doctors withdrew life support treatment.

Alfie Evans, a British toddler with a degenerative brain condition whose parents lost a legal battle to keep him on life support at a Vatican hospital, was mourned with balloons set free in the sky and prayers from the pope after he died Saturday weeks shy of his second birthday.

King, now eight years old, has since been declared clear of the disease.

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