Archie Battersbee, a 12-year-old boy whose parents fought to keep him on life support after falling into a coma in April, died on Saturday morning after British courts decided to suspend treatment.
“It is with my deepest sympathy and sadness that I tell you that Archie passed away at 12.15pm today,” his mother Holly Dance said outside the hospital. “And I can just tell you that I am the proudest mom in the entire world.”
Dance and Battersbee’s father have been fighting to keep the boy alive since he was discovered unconscious at his home on April 7 with severe brain injuries. Britain’s High Court ruled last month that the hospital must suspend life-sustaining treatment, deeming it “futile”. His family sealed the decision at the Supreme Court, and even sought support from the UN, but their appeals were rejected.
The family had asked for Battersbee to be moved to the hospice, but the High Court ruled 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 until the end and I’m so proud to be his mum,” Dance said outside the Royal London Hospital in east London.
The case is one of several high-profile cases in recent years where British courts have intervened when doctors and families disagree about the best course of treatment. Dominic Wilkinson, professor of medical ethics at Oxford University, previously told The New York Times that there have been 20 such cases in the UK in the last decade.
In this case, Battersbee’s doctors believed he was brain-dead, while his family claimed he was doing better than doctors believed. The court ultimately sided with the doctors, ruling that “there was no hope of recovery” and that continued treatment would serve “only to prolong his death, while it could not prolong his life.”
Supporters of the family held a vigil outside the hospital with candles in the shape of the letter A, according to The guardian. Ella Carter, a family member, told the newspaper that watching Battersby die was “barbaric”.
“There is absolutely nothing dignified about seeing 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 “sincere condolences” remain with the family.
“This tragic case has not only affected his family and carers, but has touched the hearts of many across the country,” he said.