Hundreds of heartbroken supporters gather in touching tribute to 'warrior' Alfie Evans

Alfie Evans latest news update BBC

The toddler had a rare degenerative brain condition that doctors said left him with nearly no brain function and multiple courts in the United Kingdom legal system ruled that letting him live was not in his best interests.

"Our baby grew his wings tonight at 2:30am (0130 GMT)".

Alfie's case sparked a medical ethics debate that resonated around the world.

Doctors overseeing Alfie's care in the city of Liverpool said further treatment was futile and not in his best interests, and that he should be allowed to die.

His parents fought for months in front of judges and continued to appeal the decision to take him off life support almost up to Alfie's death.

The parents' campaign was backed by the pope and Christian groups, which helped draw global attention to the case. "Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace", the pope tweeted on Saturday. Italy even granted Alfie citizenship and put a military plane on standby to transport him to Rome if the courts allowed it.

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

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Supporters of Alfie's parents protested outside the hospital, prompting its bosses to defend staff who they said had endured a "barrage" of abuse.

Over the last few months, doctors and his parents have been arguing about his treatment.

The case is the latest in a series of high-profile battles between parents of seriously ill children and the British authorities.

In a statement, Alder Hey wrote: 'We wish to express our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Alfie's family at this extremely distressing time.

The legal campaign, launched by Evans and Alfie's mother Kate James, attracted widespread attention and saw them clash with doctors over the child's treatment. "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 met with Evans and appealed for the wishes of the boy's parents to be heeded, saying only God can decide who dies. Catholic bishops in Britain distanced themselves from the Vatican hospital's offer of treatment and praised the Liverpool hospital, stating that "public criticism of their work is unfounded", the Journal reported.

Dozens of Alfie's supporters gathered at Springfield Park, next door to the Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, after the news of his death.

"Thomas [Sarah's brother and Alfie's dad] just wants to thank you all for the support you've all shown".

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