Last year, Charlie Gard’s parents fought to save their little boy, who doctors refused to treat because they believed he had no chance for improvement. This year the same thing happened to another little boy from the United Kingdom: Alfie Evans.
Alfie Evans was denied medical care because his doctors believe he cannot survive without external assistance. Because of this, they decided the young boy's life shouldn't be prolonged through the use of technology. However, he lived five days afterwards without the assistance of any technology.
Sadly, on Saturday, his parents announced that Alfie, only 23 months old, has passed away.
“Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am,” wrote his mother Kate James, 20, in a Facebook post early Saturday morning. “We are heartbroken. Thank you everyone for all your support,” she said.
Now, Charlie Gard's parents have a heartfelt message to Alfie Evans' parents, reported the U.K. Mirror. They reassured them that they understood the agony of losing their son and what the parents went through in their battle for his life.
But Chris Gard and Connie Yates also gave Tom Evans and Kate James hope there will be light at the end of the tunnel of despair as they struggle to come to terms with their devastation.
In their first interview since they buried Charlie last August just a week before his birthday, Chris and Connie reached out to Tom and Kate with this message:
“Life will seem not worth living at the moment but you will smile again." They added, “You both did what you thought was right for your son, out of love."
They also offered a message of support for the future. Oftentimes, people say that couples who lose a child have trouble in their relationship. Connie and Chris say otherwise.
“Your lives will never be the same again. But because of what you’ve been through together, your love for one another will be strengthened.”
Alfie died at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool on Saturday aged 23 months. It is believed he had a mitochondrial disorder similar to Charlie’s. However, he wasn't diagnosed.
Tom and Kate had fought a legal battle in a bid to take their son to Rome for treatment. Connie and Chris fought a similar battle after Pope Francis tried to intervene on their behalf.
Connie added, “We feel their pain. Chris and I know how devastated and empty they will be feeling as their desperate fight to save Alfie has ended. Seeing them go through the agonies we have done has been incredibly hard."
The couple also shared that the timing of the case, which came so soon after their own battle, was painful. It brought up bad memories, but it also underscored the need for new laws to protect parental rights.
“It has resurrected very painful memories about our own journey. Sometimes too painful to watch. I don’t think any parent can fail to have been moved by the way Tom and Kate fought for Alfie. They are loving parents who would do anything to save their child’s life. And Alfie’s case has made us even more determined to fight for new laws to give parents more say in what happens to their child, so that other parents might be spared the agony."
Connie added, “If there is anything Chris and I could do to support them through this difficult time, we will...Right now Tom and Kate will be shattered, exhausted and empty with heart-wrenching grief. They will be buoyed by support but at the same time, although they did everything they could, they will wonder as we did if they could have done more. What makes everything harder is the world’s eyes have been on them. Tom and Kate, like us, were not celebrities seeking fame. They were just ordinary people who because of the situation they found themselves in, were catapulted into the limelight.”
Connie encouraged the young couple, who are only 20 and 21, to take some comfort from the messages of support they received. Both of the couples grabbed national attention for their ordeals.
She said: “We were overwhelmed with some wonderful messages. And even now Chris and I will be stopped in the street by a passerby who will recognise us and say how sad they are about what happened to Charlie...That helps because you realise you did everything in your power to help.”
The couple has not forgotten their little boy. While they are living life, they take time every day to remember him.
Chris shared, “I visit Charlie’s grave every morning. I talk to him. It helps me to feel close to him.”
The couple are also working to set up the Charlie Gard Foundation. They are using the 1.2 million they raised to treat Charlie to push through Charlie’s Law. This law would call for mediation to be offered to all parents to prevent cases against doctors going to court, as well as for better legal aid in those cases which do go to court.
The couple believes it's vital that a law like that be passed. Chris said Alfie's case proves this.
Chris said, “People thought Charlie’s case was unique but the fact Alfie’s case followed so swiftly shows it is not. The law in this area needs to be addressed. When a parent takes their child to hospital they lose more rights than they think. It is not fair for professionals either to have to go through such conflicts again. We hope every parent will want to support a change in the law.”
Connie added: “In most cases doctors and parents do come to the same decision over a child. But UK law is inconsistent and robs parents of decisions that ought to be taken by them. Hospitals also have money whereas parents might not."
She added, “We can’t bring Charlie back but we can hopefully prevent this heartache happening to another family in future.”
Please pray for these couples as they mourn the loss of their little boys.