Christine Broesamle is a missionary from the San Francisco-Silicon Valley area, coming of age with the tech booms. She graduated from the University of San Francisco in Psychology and Great Books studies in the Saint Ignatius Institute, and Renaissance studies at Oxford. Raised an Evangelical Protestant, Christine studied theology at Regent College Vancouver, was confirmed in the Catholic Church in 2008, and then spent three years in Rwanda. The hospitality and respect in her home impacted people from all nations and backgrounds. The Rwandans named her “Umuhoza”, “One Who Consoles.” Studying international affairs at Stanford and in Rwanda, she earned a Master’s in International Negotiation and Policy-Making in Geneva. She then studied Communications and Church Management at the University of the Holy Cross in Rome, bookending her historic fight for Alfie Evans in Liverpool. Ms. Broesamle founded Solidarity House Network, supporting those whose lives and self-determination are threatened.
IFN: Welcome to Serbia! It’s quite unexpected to see you in Belgrade in these times when travel is scarce. What brings you here?
Christine-Thérèse Broesamle: I lived in Europe for the better part of the last eight years, as a missionary and graduate student. I spent significant time in the Balkans, first in Herzegovina in Medjugorje, and then in Bosnia and Serbia for my Master’s research, and I fell in love with the entire region. With travel being complicated for Americans right now, the best option to return to Europe was via Serbia, and it is really wonderful to be back! I am moving to Geneva, Switzerland, to be active around the UN Human Rights Council, after living for a year in Washington DC, where I worked on the issues of euthanasia and forced withdrawal of care by hospitals.
IFN: We have heard about you and the case of little Alfie Evans. Still, not enough people, especially here in Serbia, know what this is all about. Can you tell us how you found yourself in the midst of this story and what happened to Alfie?
Christine-Thérèse Broesamle: Fifteen years ago, the world was shocked to hear of Terri Schiavo in the United States, who was starved and dehydrated to death against her family’s wishes, by order of a court. But like most people, I didn’t notice more of these stories, and didn’t realize that this was going on everywhere. So, when the story of Charlie Gard came into my awareness, a little baby in England with a disease I’d never heard of and parents fighting to be allowed to take him to the US for treatment, blocked from leaving either their hospital or their country, I was horrified. That a state was taking children away from their parents’ control, without the parents doing anything wrong, and mandating that the child must be “allowed” to die… At first I thought it was just England that was so heartless. I followed Charlie’s case very closely – I was studying in Rome and a friend was with a group of Italians who were successfully lobbying governments for Charlie’s support. So I asked if I could watch them work, and they added me to a WhatsApp group, where my understanding of Italian increased with about 200 messages per day… Charlie was killed on June 28, 2017. Less than a month after Charlie’s death, the father of Alfie Evans, ten years younger than the parents of Charlie Gard, reached out for help to Charlie’s network: “Please, somebody help us, we’ve been trapped in our hospital even longer than Charlie. Alfie (at the time 14 months old) had seizures and is in a coma, but they have not diagnosed him. They want to take him off a ventilator against our wishes, to make him die…”
And I thought, this is crazy, here we go again… But I had connected with an Italian team, who offered legal support to anyone in the same situation (they later assisted in saving Tafida Raqeeb, October 4, 2019). All EU citizens have the right of free movement, that law was being violated, and there was a way to challenge it.
So, I contacted Alfie’s father, and for nine months we fought to try to release Alfie. I was the coordinator on the ground, in the hospital with Alfie and the family, in meetings with doctors and staff. I managed the visits of doctors from Germany, from Poland, and the States; I talked with over fifty lawyers around England and learned much about the British legal system, I managed the tasks of the legal battle, I coordinated with journalists, I was the only one present for every meeting in Italy and England with the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù Hospital doctors and executives, I was in the Vatican with Alfie’s father when he met the Pope. A group of us managed the massive flow of information on the “Alfie’s Army” group on Facebook, and we watched over Alfie’s daily safety in that wretched hospital. There was one dramatic day when we found a legal loophole, to have a medical transport remove Alfie, which I coordinated. A crowd of two or three thousand people came to the hospital, demanding Alfie’s release. The hospital lied to the police, threatened the transport doctor with harm to Alfie, and would not let him go. It was a terrible nine months of living in what felt like a tunnel, the worst I ever experienced, seeing many children and parents being treated horrifically. Alfie’s court fight, like so many others internationally, was absolutely corrupt; the lying and manipulating by the judge and the hospital lawyers, and even Alfie’s English lawyers, was devastating to watch and understand. The real story was never told. The hospital’s barrister is publicly proud that he ensured Alfie’s death. The drama was so intense, there were 666 police officially assigned to keep one baby inside the hospital. And then Alfie shocked everyone and did not die in that awful moment when they brutally took him off the ventilator. He survived breathing on his own, against all medical reason, a judgement on the world. And finally, because he wouldn’t die, after five days the hospital euthanized him with four drugs in the middle of the night.
IFN: Where you there when that happened?
Christine-Thérèse Broesamle: I was close by, but I was being kept away from Alfie’s side. The hospital was limiting who went in the room and was causing drama for the family as well. The hospital, judge and mayor had been lying and telling the family Alfie could go home to die, but they killed him before that could happen. A family member called me in the middle of the night, and told me Alfie was dying. I came right away, but he died before I arrived. I was with the whole family in the hours after his murder at the hospital, and again with volunteers and family later on. My memories of everything are very hard, I grieved like I lost my own child, and I still have very painful moments.
IFN: There were some striking spiritual aspects, weren’t there?
Christine-Thérèse Broesamle: Serbian Orthodox might find it interesting that the hospital attempted to kill Alfie by suffocation (removing the ventilator) on April 23, the feast day of Saint George, who also is the patron saint of England. It sickened me that the government of England was choosing the iconic dragon instead of their saint. Perhaps it was holy George who protected Alfie for a bit longer, as a witness to the world of this barbarism, and gave England another chance to be saved. Instead, Alfie died on April 28, 2018, the feast day of the pro-life patroness named by Pope John Paul II: Saint Gianna Beretta Molla. On the feast of St George, the Italian government claimed Alfie as an Italian citizen. So it is quite appropriate that the day he was ultimately killed was the feast of an Italian doctor who gave her life to save her child. I felt that was God’s way of having the last word, showing that genuine doctors save and don’t kill, and honoring Italy’s efforts for Alfie, which touched us so much. I also want to thank the Polish protestors outside the hospital and online, they were enormously helpful. Medjugorje also played a key role – almost everyone who helped me in England had a connection to that holy place of Blessed Mary, and there I found the strength and support to go on.
The other incredible event on April 23 has been referred to as “A Tale of Two Kates” – Princess Kate was in London, giving birth to Prince Louis, surrounded by care, support and celebration, while another Kate was in Liverpool, pregnant, exhausted, left sleeping on the floor, denied even a chair by the bed, afraid, surrounded by police and screaming as the ventilator tube was roughly yanked from her child’s throat. “Death with dignity”? The royal family never acknowledged Alfie.
IFN: I’d like to ask you some more about this, because it’s very important for people to know. What is the relevance of Alfie’s story to other countries today?
Christine-Thérèse Broesamle: One of the big shocks for me was learning that what happened to Alfie was not unusual or even limited to Britain: refusing a family to have control over the treatment of their child, refusing them to change hospitals, drugging the patient senseless, lying to the family about the patient’s condition, and killing him by force. And through that experience I also learned that other doctors and other hospitals were also willing to lie like this, to protect each other, to disrespect families, to sabotage court cases, and not give a vulnerable person a chance. And because we are supposed to trust doctors, most parents have no idea how shamelessly they are being lied to in these situations. Alfie was not in a mysterious coma, but a drug-induced one, from which he would frequently awaken. And I learned that there were whole networks of parents of “undiagnosed” children like Alfie, being treated shamefully by hospitals who clearly are not mystified, but coldly coordinated in their consistent actions. I learned about unauthorized research, and vaccine damage going unacknowledged to avoid lawsuits – with the signature seizures and developmental regression afflicting thousands of children around the world. We learned that the hospitals had cut-and-paste witness statements, recycling the same court arguments over and over, with doctors paid to put their names on them, and the same lawyers called again and again. It is an efficient system of death and dishonesty, especially targeting the poor and under-educated, though not only.
I learned that this is happening in almost every country in the world. It’s happening all over the United States, in most of Europe, in Australia, in Canada, New Zealand. I’ve heard cases coming out of South Africa. I know it’s happening in China – I met an Italian father who flew his child out of China back to Italy to save his child’s life. Trump tried to help Charlie and cares about this issue;
but the killing goes on in the US, and I held an American boy’s hand last year while he was paralyzed and suffocated, his pulse racing in fear in my hand and security agents around us. The Polish president spoke out for Alfie, but a few weeks later a child named Szymon was killed in his country.
It is not just children; it’s the seriously ill, the disabled, and the elderly; anyone costing too much money or a liability for malpractice or covering unauthorized research, or with potential for lucrative organ harvesting. A whistleblower nurse in New York during Covid-19 explained exactly what I suspected: that hospitals heavily drug a patient in ICU on a ventilator, and after as little as a month, she said, “the person is basically brain dead.” Now “brain death” is a legal fiction, according to ethicists at the US National Institutes of Health, not true biological death. It was created by a committee at Harvard University in 1968 to justify heart transplants, because the organs must be taken out of live people, causing death. “Brain death” gives them the pretext to pressure for organ donation. I was shocked at how fast and how intentionally the damage occurs from drugging and ventilators – and it shows again that Alfie’s lucidity after 15 months of abuse was a huge miracle and testimony of life against death. All this abuse is a very serious problem, and we all need to be aware of it and the things we need to do to protect our families. Fathers always tell me that they would protect their kids with a gun, but that is not the solution, it won’t work.
IFN: What do families need to know to protect themselves?
Christine-Thérèse Broesamle: The strategies we offer are not foolproof, but there are things to do in any case. The most important thing, when you go to the hospital, is that no one should ever be left alone, you should always have at least one or two knowledgeable family members there, 24 hours a day. Keep family unity: do not allow a hospital to manipulate one parent or family member against another. One of the problems with the Covid crisis is that family members were kept out of the hospitals. I knew immediately that this was a warning sign that they planned on euthanizing or neglecting many people to death, instead of trying to save them, with no witnesses. And sure enough – Covid is a cover for the biggest mass euthanasia around the world since the Nazis, and it’s still happening now.
Second, have a family doctor you trust, with hospital admitting privileges, to control your care.
Third, before you ever need them, find a lawyer who is known, smart and accountable to defend your rights, not a stranger with a conflict of interest who could be bought off.
Fourth, long before anything happens, everyone should have an “advance directive” for each family member, stating that they want to be kept alive with full effort to save them, and not to harvest organs or withdraw treatment from them for any reason, unless something is signed by both parents or two clearly-designated “proxy” decision makers named on the directive, for someone in a coma, incapacitated, or under 18 years old. Then at least two witnesses sign that directive. A notary or lawyer should also certify it. For more information and sample directives, see http://www.lifeguardianfoundation.org, the work of the heroic neonatologist, my friend Dr. Paul Byrne.
Fifth, make every request of the hospital in writing, with a deadline for when it should be fulfilled. Sign and date it, bring two copies, one for yourself and one for the hospital, make a nurse sign and date them, and then make the nurse fax or attach it into the official hospital records. Take pictures of the nurse’s signed copy as proof. Tell them nicely and clearly in writing what your next steps will be if they do not fulfill it by the deadline. Then do what you say you will do. This is extremely powerful, shows you are serious, and it holds hospitals accountable. The medical records are a battleground and the most important paper trail. Keep copies and photos of everything.
Sixth, if you’re still getting problems, call the media and politicians and show them your paper trail.
These steps are not always respected, but they can be enough to stop a tragedy. If you smile and wave that paper in the face of a medical professional in the first moments, and you’re calling the loyal lawyer at the first hint of a problem, they might not want to fight you at all, because they realize that you know what you’re doing. Give copies of that to every family member, your lawyer, your doctor, and carry it in your wallet, so that there’s no problem finding this document in an emergency. Nobody can say you didn’t write it. You make sure that the paper goes in the medical file the minute the person is in the hospital. You attach it to the papers next to the bed, and make sure they don’t take it out, because they’ll try to say they lost it, or they never saw it, and that’s lying. So you make sure that it’s always there and visible.
IFN: How did you decide to venture into this brave and, we might say, adventurous and risky enterprise of benevolence?
Christine-Thérèse Broesamle: I never planned to fight the British state over a baby, that was something where it just falls in your lap and there’s no one else to go. I tried to find someone else to go to England instead of me, and there wasn’t anybody willing. We got to the point where, if I didn’t go, we knew Alfie would die. I’m a decent human being and I love people, I believe in self-determination; how could I not do what was in my power to do? So it was simply doing the right thing, I barely needed to pray about it, because of course you’re going do it, of course you want to save a child, of course you don’t want his parents to suffer, you just go. But at many points in life I had to discern and pray, Lord, what do You want from me, is this Your will? I have remained close to good priests as well, for the times when the decisions are more difficult. The last word is always trust in God, that He will take care of me.
IFN: A lot of God’s work.
Christine-Thérèse Broesamle: Yes, my life has been very rich, and I would not trade it. I can say that all of my international moves were acts of obedience to God in trust, but I didn’t expect it to be this many – eight countries in the last twenty years, and a lot of family and friend time sacrificed. So I’m thankful that now it seems I’m going home to Geneva, where I have twenty years of friendships, and a mission to fulfill in that city. I know that I did everything that God asked me to do, and I’m still doing my best to follow Him wherever He asks me to go. Imagine what a better place the world would be if every Christian were obedient to God to do anything He asked them? He might not ask you to move, but He needs your faithfulness for something important that only you can do.
The Interview was conducted by Jugoslav Kiprijanovic, the editor of the IFN-Serbia, during Ms Broesamle’s stay in Belgrade in September 2020.