Sick British toddler at center of legal battle dies

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"Our baby boy grew his wings tonight ..." Judges had agreed with doctors that further treatment would be futile and there was no hope of him getting better.

After a series of court cases, doctors at Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool removed his life support on Monday, April 23, against his parents' wishes.

The parents' campaign was backed by the pope and Christian groups, which helped draw worldwide attention to the case.

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

Italy granted Alfie citizenship and put a military plane on standby to transport him to Rome, if the courts allowed it.

Pope Francis tweeted Saturday that he was "deeply moved" by Alfie's death.

In the hours after Alfie was taken off ventilation support, hospital staff refused to provide the toddler with ventilation and hydration.

As a result of Alfie's unresponsiveness to active treatment, the hospital suggested that he be taken off life support.

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A statement from Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where Alfie was treated, said staff expressed their "heartfelt sympathy", reports the BBC.

In a statement posted Thursday on Facebook, Evans thanked hospital staff "at every level for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly hard time for them too".

The case stirred strong feelings over whether judges, doctors or parents have the right to decide on a child's life.

"Let us pray that every sick person might always be respected in their dignity and cared for in a manner adapted to their condition, with the concordant input of their families and loved ones, of the doctors and of other health-care workers, with great respect for life", he said during his Sunday remarks on April 15, after mentioning "little Alfie Evans". "Thank you everyone for all your support", his mother Kate James wrote. "This has been a devastating journey for them", it said.

Alfie's case received much attention outside Britain, especially in Catholic countries. Francis recently appealed for the wishes of the boy's parents to be heeded, saying only God can decide who dies. A leading right-wing politician in Italy, Veneto Gov. Luca Zaia, said that in Alfie, the "so-called civilized world has supplied the latest proof of enormous incivility".

Following the news, more than 1,000 supporters reportedly gathered at a park near Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's Hospital in tribute.

Supporters began to leave floral tributes outside the hospital and a post on the "Alfie's Army" Facebook page, which has 801,000 members, said balloons would be released from a park near the facility later on Saturday.