Toddler Alfie Evans dies in hospital

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The father of a terminally ill British toddler said the child is surviving after being taken off life support, surprising doctors who had argued he should be allowed to die.

Tom posted to his Facebook page, "My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 2:30 am". We are heart broken.

In an earlier statement published on April 12, Alfie's mother Kate James wrote, "How sad is it that someone can tell you where and when your child is going to die?"

Hundreds of supporters gathered in Springfield Park in Liverpool, next to the Alder Hey Children's Hospital where Alfie was treated.

Alder Hey children's hospital posted a statement on their website saying: "All of us feel deeply for Alfie, Kate, Tom and his whole family and our thoughts are with them". "This has been a devastating journey for them".

James, 20, posted a message on social media thanking everyone who supported the family through Alfie's illness and court fight.

Alfie had a rare, degenerative disease and had been in a semi-vegetative state for more than a year.

The Pope added: "Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace".

Alfie's parents have been backed by Pope Francis and Poland's President Andrzej Duda. Pope Francis personally met with Thomas Evans.

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Alfie was admitted to Alder Hey Hospital in December 2016.

The hospital said that further attempts to treat the child are meaningless and, indeed, inhumane.

Flowers, balloons, toys and cards were left at the hospital, who passed away five days after his life-support was turned off.

"The only master of life, from the beginning to its natural end, is God, and our duty is to do everything to protect life", he said. Italy has provided Alfie citizenship.

His parents said that the youngster had defied doctors' expectations and they took their case to the Court of Appeal, but the application to take him overseas was rejected.

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".

The death came after an easing of tensions between the family and the hospital.

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

The pope's tweets about the boy drew significant attention, prompting comparisons to Charlie Gard, a British baby who died a year ago despite his parents' fight - with the expressed support of Pope Francis and President Donald Trump - to keep him on life support.