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06th Aug 2022

Archie Battersbee dies age 12 as life support is withdrawn

Tobi Akingbade

Archie Battersbee

A series of last-minute appeals were rejected this week

Archie Battersbee has passed away after multiple attempts to postpone the withdrawal of his life support were rejected this week.

His family have been spending their final hours with the 12-year-old after being told his life support would be withdrawn on Saturday morning.

His mother stood outside the hospital saying she is the “proudest mother in the world”. She added that Archie “fought until the very end”.

On Wednesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused an application from the boy’s parents to delay any changes to his treatment.  The Supreme Court in the UK denied an earlier application.

Archie parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, wanted him moved to a hospice, but doctors warned there was a “considerable risk” in moving him. They had until 9am Thursday to file a High Court application to do so.

Archie Battersbee’s mum has been begging doctors to keep her son alive after he was found unconscious at home with a ligature around his neck. Credit SWNS

Another last-minute plea, in a series of many, was made on Friday to the ECHR to intervene in the case, but this was rejected late on Friday over a High Court ruling that he must remain at Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Archie’s life support, which has been in place since April, had its withdrawal date and time postponed at various times in August.

It had been due to be withdrawn on Wednesday but was delayed for the ECHR to consider his family’s appeal. The ECHR said it “would not interfere” with the UK courts’ rulings.

Dance, said the court’s decision to refuse their application was “another heartbreaking development”.

She told Sky News on Wednesday morning that she has been contacted by doctors in Japan and Turkey who say they have medical interventions that will help Archie recover and that she is considering options that involve moving him outside of the UK.

An earlier intervention from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) to keep Archie alive was also rejected.

A legal stay on the termination of treatment at the Royal London hospital was initially extended to 1pm on Monday, and then to 12pm on Tuesday so that hearing could take place.

The court then allowed Archie’s parents time to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court, who turned down their request on Tuesday afternoon.

On Sunday, ministers asked the high court to “urgently consider” the UN’s request.

Hollie called for doctors to give her son more time to recover from his coma and appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice to fight her case on Monday Credit: SWNS

Archie’s mother had said she wanted a “realistic time” for her child to recover after he was found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex, on 7 April.

Archie has never regained consciousness. Dance believes her son might have been taking part in an online challenge.

During his treatment, doctors have said that Archie is brain-stem dead and that it is in his best interest to stop his care and withdraw his life-support.

Last week, Appeal Court judges ruled that doctors could lawfully disconnect his ventilator. The decision came after two High Court judges agreed with doctors and said life-support treatment could end.

Archie’s family then applied to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities to consider the case, arguing it had a protocol that allowed individuals and families to “make complaints about violations of disabled people’s rights”.

Speaking after Monday’s hearing, Dance said: “This is no way for a compassionate society to treat a family in our situation. We will continue to fight for Archie.”

Dance has always been adamant that her son’s future “shouldn’t be with the decisions of a court – or the hospital”.

“I think this sort of decision should be made by the parents,” she said.

“I don’t think I’m holding on to hope, I’m just asking for a realistic time for my child to recover from a brain injury.”

Medical experts say that the youngster was likely to already be brain dead and that it was in his “best interests” to remove life support. Credit: SWNS

Dance said based on evidence from cases similar to Archie’s: “I don’t think six months was not too much to ask for, before being dragged through a court.

“I don’t think I’m holding on to hope, I’m just asking for a realistic time for my child to recover from a brain injury.

“They wanted to turn the machine off on day three. What is the rush?”

“I just think while Archie’s progressing, I think it’s important that evidence is actually put before a court. That he’s progressing, not deteriorating like the doctor said that he would.”

Sir Mark Hedley, a former High Court judge for the family division, told Radio 4: “I think our social structure is such, that… where there are disputes between citizens and the state, as there are here, they are finally resolved by a judge who is the independent arbitrator.”

While he agreed such cases should not be rushed, he said: “The law itself is quite straightforward. It requires me to act in the interests of the child and to look at the child’s interests, so far as I can through the eyes of the child.

“The views of the parents, the medical authorities are before me through their respective teams, and my job is to try and look at it through the eyes of the child.”