The father of a seriously ill 20-month-old boy broke down in tears as a court was told that further hospital treatment was “futile”.
Tom Evans and Kate James, both 20 and from Liverpool, want to take their son Alfie abroad for treatment.
But doctors in the UK say continuing life-support treatment is not in the child’s best interests.
Alfie, who was born on May 9 2016, is in a “semi-vegetative state” and has a degenerative neurological condition doctors have not definitively diagnosed.
Despite mediation between the parents and specialists caring for Alfie at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, a two-day hearing at the city’s family court will begin on Thursday to decide the child’s fate.
It follows a preliminary hearing at the High Court in London last year, when Mr Justice Hayden said everyone wanted what was best for Alfie, but ruled he would make a decision if agreement could not be reached after hearing from both sides.
Alfie’s parents hope that specialists at the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital in Rome will be able to pinpoint what is wrong with their child.
Mr Evans said: “At the moment we are not willing to let him die.
“But if we have turned all the stones over and don’t wake our child up…we will wait for him to deteriorate and let him die in his own way.
“We can take him home and still care for him but knowing he will die in our home, knowing we have tried everything.”
He added that he believes Alfie “is not dying”, and that his son’s condition is improving.
A Justgiving page set up to raise money for the youngster’s treatment abroad has raised more than £55,000.