Toddler Alfie Evans dies in hospital

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Alfie Evans, the little boy at the heart of a legal battle in the United Kingdom over his right to live and his parents' right to have a say in his care, died early Saturday.

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

Kate James and Tom Evans made the announcement on social media, saying they were "heartbroken".

The hospital, Alder Hey Children's Hospital, withdrew Alfie's life support Monday after a series of court rulings.

Alfie garnered worldwide attention during his family's legal battle, even drawing attention from Pope Francis, who tweeted Saturday that he was "deeply moved" by Alfie's death.

'This has been a devastating journey for them and we would ask that their privacy and the privacy of staff at Alder Hey is respected'.

Today, Pope Francis wrote that he is deeply saddened by the death of little Alfie.

She wrote: 'So sad to hear about the lovely Alfie Evens I'm sending all my love to Alfie's parents, they did everything they could for their little boy.

Alfie was admitted to Alder Hey Hospital in December 2016.

After being in a coma for over a year before his life-support was stopped after appeals and pleas to the judges and courts failed.

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The parents disagreed and the two sides went to court.

Alder Hey Hospital said scans showed "catastrophic degradation of his brain tissue" and that further treatment was not only "futile" but also "unkind and inhumane".

Alfie had been in a semi-vegetative state and scans of his brain had shown that nearly all of it had been destroyed.

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

"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. Earlier this month, Thomas Evans met with Pope Francis in Rome and asked the pontiff to see his son in Liverpool. Italy has provided Alfie citizenship.

Supporters of the parents staged angry protests regularly outside the hospital, at times trying to storm its entrance.

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", Agence France-Presse reported. He died one week before his first birthday.

Alfie had been in a coma for over a year and needed a ventilator to keep him breathing but his parents have fought to stop his life support being switched off.

A British court rejected an appeal by the parents on Wednesday to take their son to Italy.

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