Toddler dies after divisive legal challenge

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"The Alfie Evans case is extremely hard for all involved; heartbreaking for his parents and emotionally challenging for the doctors and nurses involved in treating and caring for him", it said. "Thank you everyone for all your support", his mother Kate James wrote. The court also ruled that the parents could not seek treatment for him elsewhere because further treatment would be against the child's best interests.

"Our baby boy grew his wings tonight at 2:30 am".

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

His father, who has been consistent and vocal about the legal battle for his son's continuing health aid, shared to Facebook on Saturday morning confirmation of Alfie's passing.

Doctors overseeing his care said further treatment was futile and he should be allowed to die. But Alfie's doctors, who took him off life support against his parents' wishes, said he couldn't be healed and shouldn't make the trip.

On Wednesday, the British Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that took away care and sustenance from the toddler and prevented his parents from seeking treatment elsewhere.

The parents of Ashya King defied professionals in 2014 when they snatched their cancer-stricken son from a British hospital and took him to Prague for proton beam therapy.

Alfie's parents were supported by Pope Francis, whom they visited earlier to week to ask for help, and Poland's President Andrzej Duda.

Pope Francis tweeted Saturday that he was "deeply moved" by Alfie's death. "Today I pray especially for his parents, as God the Father receives him in his tender embrace", the pontiff tweeted. Italy even granted Alfie citizenship and put a military plane on standby to transport him to Rome if the courts allowed it.

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

The couple heavily criticised medical staff, with Thomas Evans suggesting his son was a "prisoner" at the hospital and had been misdiagnosed.

"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", the hospital said. Francis recently 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.

A leading Italian right-wing politician, Veneto Gov. Luca Zaia, said the "so-called civilized world has supplied the latest proof of enormous incivility".

After losing his legal battle, the father on Thursday had asked supporters, who have staged angry vigils outside the hospital where the baby was being treated, to go home.