After being in a comatose state for four months, 12-year-old Archie Battersbee has died at a London hospital, despite his family’s weeks-long legal battle to keep him alive.
Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said he died on Saturday afternoon, two hours after his treatment stopped.
“It’s with my deepest sympathy and sadness to tell you all that Archie passed at 12:15pm today,” Dance said.
“Can I just say that I’m the proudest mum in the world, such a beautiful little boy, and he fought right until the very end, and I’m so proud to be his mum.”
After a series of legal bids to prevent doctors from withdrawing his life support treatment, the British High Court rejected the family’s request that Archie be moved to a hospice, arguing his condition was so unstable that moving him would hasten his death.
“Their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case,″ High Court judge Lucy Theiss wrote in her decision on Friday.
“I hope now Archie can be afforded the opportunity for him to die in peaceful circumstances, with the family who meant so much to him as he clearly does to them.”
Archie’s parents then appealed to the Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights to challenge the decision, but both courts refused to take the case.
The young boy was found unconscious at home with a ligature over his head on April 7, with his parents believing he was taking part in an online challenge that went wrong.
Doctors concluded that Archie was brain-stem dead soon after the incident and sought to end the treatments keeping him alive, including artificial respiration, medication that regulated his bodily functions, and around-the-clock care from nurses.
His parents argued that Archie had shown signs of life and disagreed with the doctors’ decision, sparking a legal battle across several UK courts.
After Archie’s medication was stopped, Ella Carter, the fiancé of Archie’s eldest brother, Tom, said he was stable for about two hours.
But, when his ventilator was turned off, Archie’s condition rapidly declined.
“He went completely blue,” she said. “There is absolutely nothing dignified about watching a family member or a child suffocate.
“No family should ever have to go through what we’ve been through. It’s barbaric.”
The Royal London Hospital, where Archie was treated, expressed its condolences and thanked the doctors and nurses who cared for the boy.
“They provided high quality care with extraordinary compassion over several months in often trying and distressing circumstances,” said Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer of Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital.
“This tragic case not only affected the family and his carers but touched the hearts of many across the country.”
Following Archie’s passing, Ilora Finlay, a professor of palliative medicine and a member of the House of Lords, said she hopes the Conservative government will hold an independent inquiry into alternative ways of handling cases like Archie’s without going through the legal system.
“The parents don’t want to go to court. The doctors don’t want to go to court. The managers don’t want to go to court,” Professor Finlay told Times Radio.
“My worry is that these cases are going forward to court too quickly and too early, and that we need an alternative way of managing the communication between the doctors and the parents.”
Professor Finlay said parents being in shock makes it difficult for them to accept that their child has suffered a catastrophic brain injury, which requires patience from those caring for their children.
“When there’s brain injury, often their child looks intact, so their face looks as it always did,” she said.
“So understanding what has gone on inside the brain and the amount of injury is something that needs to be sensitively explained to parents, and that takes time.”
Image: Hollie Dance (Facebook)
This article first appeared on OverSixty.