Archie Battersby, a 12-year-old boy whose parents fought to keep him on life support after he fell into a coma in April, died on Saturday morning after a British court ruled to suspend treatment.
“It is with my deepest sympathies and sadness to inform you that Archie passed away at 12:15 today,” his mother, Holly Dance, said from outside the hospital. “And can I tell you, I am the proudest mother in the entire world.”
Dance and Battersby’s father have been fighting to keep the boy alive since he was found unconscious with severe brain injuries at home on April 7. The British High Court ruled last month that hospitals should suspend life-sustaining treatment, deeming it “futile”. His family sealed the Supreme Court’s decision, and even sought UN support, but their appeal was rejected.
The family asked for Battersby to be transferred to hospice, but the High Court ruled that he was too medically unstable. The treatment was suspended after the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene.
“Such a beautiful little boy and he fought to the end and I’m proud to be his mum,” Dance said from outside the Royal London Hospital in east London.
The case is one of several high-profile instances of British court intervention in recent years when doctors and families disagree on the best course of treatment. Dominic Wilkinson, professor of medical ethics at the University of Oxford, said earlier The New York Times There have been 20 such cases in the UK in the past decade.
In this case, Battersbee’s doctors believed he was brain dead, while his family argued he was doing better than doctors claimed. The court ultimately sided with the doctors, ruling that there was “no hope of recovery” and that continued treatment “could only prolong his death, though unable to prolong his life”.
Supporters of the family paid their respects outside the hospital with candles in the shape of the letter A. guardian. Ella Carter, a family member, told the outlet it was “brutal” to see Battersby die.
“There is absolutely nothing dignified in watching a family member or a child suffocate,” he said. “No family should ever have to go through what we went through.”
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, said his “heartfelt sympathies” are with the family.
“This tragic incident has not only affected the family and his caretaker but has touched the hearts of many across the country,” he said.