LONDON, April 22 (Xinhua) -- A tug of love battle between the devoted parents of a terminally ill child and the might of Britain's legal system is entering its closing stages.
A decision by the highest court in Britain has paved the way for life-support systems keeping 23-months old Alfie Evans alive to be switched off in one of Britain's best known children's hospitals, Alder Hey in Liverpool.
The decision means the young boy, suffering from a mystery brain disease, will die soon after. He has been living in a coma for well over a year after being struck down with a mystery illness.
In what has become every parent's nightmare, the plight of his dad and mom Tom Evans, 21, and Kate James, 20, is being followed across the world through their social media site.
The only slight hope of a reprieve is a last ditch appeal to the European Court of Human Rights by Alfie's parents. They want their desperately sick son to be flown to a children's hospital in Rome which has offered to take him as a patient.
The legal system in Britain has sided with doctors at Alder Hey who insist nothing more can be done to save Alfie.
Hundreds of parents, many clutching banners saying "Alfie's Army" and "Save Alfie", have protested outside the hospital, leading to Alfie's parents make a plea for them to stay away because of the impact it was having on other parents and their sick children.
The boy's parents have taken their battle to the High Court, Appeal Court and the Supreme Court, all to no avail.
Alfie's dad even flew to Rome and won support in their battle from the Pope, leader of the world's Roman Catholics.
Last week three Court of Appeal judges said that the "gold standard" in this case should be about Alfie's best interests. They ruled that the original order to withdraw life support should be upheld. The Supreme Court then denied a request to appeal for a second time. That paves the way for life support to be switched off by doctors.
Alfie's dad Tom Evans told local media in Liverpool: "This is not justice. This is a cruel, murderous bureaucracy. We have instructed our lawyers to submit an urgent application to the European Court of Human Rights. We will not give up. We will continue to fight, by all means available to us within the law, to save our son's life."
Delivering the latest ruling, three Supreme Court judges said: "There is also no reason for further delay. There will be no further stay of the Court of Appeal's order.
"The hospital must be free to do what has been determined in Alfie's best interests. That is the law in this country. No application of the European Court of Human Rights Strasbourg can or should change that."
Following the latest ruling, Alder Hey Children's Hospital said in a statement: "The Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the High Court and the Court of Appeal confirming that 'it has been conclusively determined that it is not in Alfie's best interests to continue to receive treatment or to travel abroad for treatment'."
"The Supreme Court acknowledged that this was a desperately sad case... principally of course for Alfie's parents for they love their little boy dearly and want to do all in their power to keep him alive. But it is sad also for the people who have been keeping Alfie alive for so long, the doctors and nurses at Alder Hey hospital."
The statement added: "We understand that this decision is very distressing for Alfie's family at this very difficult time."