LONDON (Reuters) – Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old British toddler whose grave illness drew international attention, died early on Saturday, his family said.

Alfie had a rare, degenerative disease and had been in a semi-vegetative state for more than a year.

After a series of court cases, doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool removed his life support on Monday, against his parents wishes.

He confounded expectations by continuing to breathe unaided for days, but died in the early hours of Saturday, his parents said.

“My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings at 02:30 absolutely heartbroken,” the boy’s father Tom Evans wrote on Facebook.

“Our baby boy grew his wings tonight … Thank you everyone for all your support,” his mother Kate James wrote.

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