June 3, 2023

The family of a 12-year-old boy who is in a coma for four months he has been waiting for a London hospital to begin withdrawing life-sustaining treatment on Saturday after his parents exhausted their legal options in a battle over his care.

Archie Battersbee’s mother, Hollie Dance, said hospital staff told the family they would be withdrawing the boy’s treatment at 10 a.m. British courts rejected the family’s request for Archie to be moved to a hospice and the European Court of Human Rights refused for a second time to intervene in the case.

Battle of life support in Britain
Undated family photo of Archie Battersbee, whose parents have applied to the European Court of Human Rights in an attempt to delay the withdrawal of his life support.

Hollie Dance / AP

Dance told Britain’s Sky News there was nothing the family could do and was “pretty devastated” after the ordeal that began on April 7 when Archie was found unconscious.

“I’ve done everything I promised my little boy I would do,” she said through tears.

The Royal London Hospital, where Archie was being treated, did not confirm Dance’s statement.

Archie’s care became the subject of weeks of legal wrangling as his parents tried to force the hospital to continue life-sustaining treatments and doctors argued there was no chance of recovery and he should be allowed to die.

The family sought permission to move Archie to a hospice after British courts ruled it was in his best interests to end treatment. The hospital said Archie’s condition was so unstable that moving him would hasten his death.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge Lucy Theis rejected the family’s request, saying Archie would have to remain in hospital while treatment was stopped.

“I return to where I began, recognizing the enormity of what lies ahead for Archie’s parents and family. Their unconditional love and devotion to Archie is a golden thread running through this case,” Thies wrote in her decision. . “I hope that Archie can now be given the chance to die in peace, with the family that meant as much to him as he clearly means to them.”

The row is the latest UK case to pit doctors’ judgment against families’ wishes. Under British law, it is common for the courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree about a child’s medical treatment. In such cases, the best interests of the child override the parents’ right to decide what they believe is best for their offspring.

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