A judge in the U.K.'s High Court has refused a request to take the terminally-ill Alfie Evans to a hospital in Italy, where he could continue receiving life-support treatment.
The Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool had withdrawn Evans' life support on Monday after a ruling from the High Court.
The 23-month-old boy's parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, had filed appeals with the U.K. Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights, but both courts refused to hear their plea.
Alfie Evans had been granted Italian citizenship earlier this week in the hopes that the parents would be allowed to transfer him to a hospital there to receive treatment.
However, High Court Justice Anthony Hayden rejected the request and contended that the ruling "represents the final chapter in the life of this extraordinary little boy." The family's lawyer has noted that an appeal is underway to challenge the High Court's rejection.
The judge noted that while the parents will not be able to take their son abroad, they can take him home.
The boy suffers from an unidentified degenerative neurological condition and has been confined at Alder Hey in a "semi-vegetative state" since December 2016. Doctors at the hospital had requested the removal of his life support, arguing that further treatment is futile.
Paul Diamond, who represents the family in court, contended that the child is doing "significantly better" than previously believed. Tom Evans noted on Tuesday that the boy had survived six hours without life support before the doctors resumed providing oxygen and hydration, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The doctors stated that it is not clear how long the child would survive without life support, but they maintained that his condition does not have a chance of improving.
The judge had dismissed the claims that the boy's condition was improving. "The sad truth is that it is not," the judge said, as reported by the BBC.
"With little, indeed no hesitation, I reject that. The brain cannot regenerate itself and there is virtually nothing of his brain left," he continued.
The parents are hoping to transfer their son to the Vatican's Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital, which has offered to treat the child.
Last week, Tom Evans visited Pope Francis in Rome to urge him to grant "asylum" to his son. "If your holiness helps our child you will be potentially saving the future for our children in the UK, especially the disabled," Tom Evans said, according to Catholic Herald.
The pope vowed at the time that the Vatican's Secretariat of State will take action to ensure that a "decisive diplomatic channel is opened up for Alfie" so that "the dignity of his life is respected."