The parents of Charlie Gard have reached out to Alfie Evans telling them, "you did what you thought was right for your son".
The Bedfont couple lost their baby just a week before his first birthday in August last year , after losing a lengthy court battle to take him to America for an experimental treatment.
They were speaking in their first public interview in The Mirror since burying their son, and reached out to Tom Evans and Kate James, who lost their 23-month-old son Alfie after 16 months in Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool, having been brought in after suffering seizures.
Alfie was eventually found to have a degenerative neurological condition but doctors were unable to narrow it down further and clashed with the parents over the treatment plan. Alfie had been in a vegetative state for over a year, and doctors refused to treat him further, while a hospital in Italy offered to accept and treat him.
The hospital said continuing treatment was "not in Alfie's best interests", and the High Court agreed, and an appeal was not admitted in either the Supreme Court or the European Court of Human Rights.
Alfie's life support was removed on Monday (April 23) and eventually passed away on the early morning of Saturday (April 28).
Chris Gard and Connie Yates, who went through a similar battle to take their son Charlie to America.
In their first interview since they buried Charlie last August, Chris, 33, and 32-year-old Connie reached out to Tom and Kate with this message: “Life will seem not worth living at the moment but you will smile again.
“You both did what you thought was right for your son, out of love.
“Your lives will never be the same again. But because of what you’ve been through together, your love for one another will be strengthened.”
Their support for Tom and Kate came as they launched their campaign for Charlie’s Law, a Bill which they hope will give families more rights over what happens to their sick children.
Connie said: “We feel their pain. Chris and I know how devastated and empty they will be feeling as their desperate fight to save Alfie has ended.
“Seeing them go through the agonies we have done has been incredibly hard.
“Their case has come so soon after ours and seeing them stood outside the same courts, pain etched on their faces, has been heartbreaking.
“It has resurrected very painful memories about our own journey. Sometimes too painful to watch. I don’t think any parent can fail to have been moved by the way Tom and Kate fought for Alfie.
"They are loving parents who would do anything to save their child’s life. And Alfie’s case has made us even more determined to fight for new laws to give parents more say in what happens to their child, so that other parents might be spared the agony.
“If there is anything Chris and I could do to support them through this difficult time, we will.
“Right now Tom and Kate will be shattered, exhausted and empty with heart-wrenching grief. They will be buoyed by support but at the same time, although they did everything they could, they will wonder as we did if they could have done more.
"What makes everything harder is the world’s eyes have been on them. Tom and Kate, like us, were not celebrities seeking fame. They were just ordinary people who because of the situation they found themselves in, were catapulted into the limelight.”
Connie spoke of the horrific ordeal Tom, 21, and 20-year-old Kate, from Liverpool, will have gone through as they fought to keep their little lad alive.
She said: “Tom and Kate have gone through the most intensive experience they will ever have.
“They have spent at least the last year in a hospital bubble. As Alfie grew weaker they will have wanted to spend every minute with him knowing it would be their last. You don’t sleep, you don’t eat.
“It completely turns your normal life upside down. It is all consuming, so intense. The hospital routines, the legal battles. It takes over your life. One day you are living a normal life, going to work, shopping for tea. But when your child is ill, nothing else matters. Then, when the your worst scenario is imagined and your child dies, this world ends.
“You are left with a massive emptiness. Words don’t exist to describe how devastating this empty feeling is. But it is possible for Alfie’s parents this emptiness will be magnified because suddenly everything you’ve been fighting for, all the hope you once had is just gone.”
Connie encouraged Tom and Kate to take some comfort from the messages of support they received – as she and Chris did.
She said: “We were overwhelmed with some wonderful messages. And even now Chris and I will be stopped in the street by a passerby who will recognise us and say how sad they are about what happened to Charlie.
“That helps because you realise you did everything in your power to help.” But the couple are still taking each day as it comes. Connie added: “The worst time is the mornings. You wake up and wonder what’s different. Then you remember your child has died and it hits you as if you’d only just been told.”
It was two weeks after Charlie’s death when she and Chris were finally able to smile again – after watching a video of him playing.
Connie said: “I smiled at the happy memories we have of him. Yes, it was followed by sadness and tears that he’s no longer here. But we can always smile watching his videos.”
Chris added: “I visit Charlie’s grave every morning. I talk to him. It helps me to feel close to him.” The couple have also found some positivity from their Charlie Gard Foundation, which is being set up with more than £1.2million raised in their bid to get treatment. Charlie’s Law is calling for mediation to be offered to all parents to prevent cases against doctors going to court.
The Bill is also calling for better legal aid in those cases which do go to court.
Chris said: “People thought Charlie’s case was unique but the fact Alfie’s case followed so swiftly shows it is not. The law in this area needs to be addressed. When a parent takes their child to hospital they lose more rights than they think. It is not fair for professionals either to have to go through such conflicts again. We hope every parent will want to support a change in the law.”
Connie added: “In most cases doctors and parents do come to the same decision over a child.
“But UK law is inconsistent and robs parents of decisions that ought to be taken by them. Hospitals also have money whereas parents might not.
“We did not qualify for legal aid and we found there was nowhere to get advice. It was daunting as we’d never even been to court before.
“We hope Charlie’s Law will prevent these sorts of cases to court. But if they do, support should be in place.
“We can’t bring Charlie back but we can hopefully prevent this heartache happening to another family in future.”