Archie Battersbee, the 12-year-old boy whose parents fought a long-running legal battle to prevent his life support treatment from being removed, has died, his mother has said outside the Royal London hospital.
He had been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother Hollie Dance in April and was being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.
Speaking outside the Royal London hospital, Ms Dance said he had “fought right until the very end” and she was the “proudest mum in the world”.
Speaking through tears, she said: “In sadness, Archie passed at 12.15pm today. I would just like to say I am the proudest mum in the world.
“He was such a beautiful little boy. He fought right until the very end and I am so proud to be his mum.”
Archie’s parents, Ms Dance and Paul Battersbee, in recent days made applications to the high court, court of appeal and European court of human rights (ECHR) to have him transferred to a hospice to die.
A last-ditch plea to the ECHR to intervene was rejected late on Friday, following a high court ruling that he must remain at Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London.
Archie, a talented gymnast and lover of mixed martial arts, had been in a coma since suffering a catastrophic brain injury on April 7th. His mother, who had been at his bedside almost constantly ever since, believes it resulted from him choking while taking part in a viral social media challenge.
Doctors said Archie was brain stem dead but his parents wanted life support to continue.
Last month, a high court judge, praising Archie as having “an infectious enthusiasm for life”, ruled it was “futile” to keep treating him.
In an interview with Sky News, recorded on Friday, Dance said she was “pretty broken”.
The mother, from Southend-on-Sea in Essex, said: “The last however many weeks since 7th April, I don’t think there’s been a day that hasn’t been awful really. It’s been really hard. Despite the hard strong face and appearance obviously in front of the cameras up until now, I’ve been pretty broken.”
Asked if there was anything more she could do, she said: “No. I’ve done everything that I promised my little boy I’d do. And I’ve done it.”
The European court said the complaints “fell outside the scope” of the rule the appeal was made under and so it would not intervene.
Mrs Justice Theis, sitting at the high court, said she had taken her decision in the light of evidence from a doctor treating Archie that the risks of moving him were “major and unpredictable” and that he is becoming more fragile.
“I am satisfied that when looking at the balancing exercise again, his best remain interests … that he should remain at the hospital when treatment is withdrawn,” Theis said in his judgment.
“The circumstances outlined by Dr F of the physical arrangements at the hospital, and the arrangements that can be made, will ensure that Archie’s best interest will remain the focus of the final arrangements to enable him peacefully and privately to die in the embrace of the family he loved.”
Archie’s parents attempted to appeal partly on the basis that Theis did not allow an application for expert evidence from “Dr R”, a consultant in paediatric respiratory medicine, which they made just before Thursday’s hearing.
Outlining her decision not to grant the application for expert assessment, Theis said the court had heard evidence from Dr F, “the treating specialist who has detailed knowledge of Archie’s current position”, and that Dr R had not worked in a pediatric intensive care unit since 2008.
She added: “Dr R takes little issue with what Dr F set out, other than the assessment of risks involved in transfer in which he recognizes he has no detailed information about Archie’s clinical position or background.”
The three court of appeal judges, led by Sir Andrew McFarlane, said Theis’s reasoning for not instructing Dr R were sound. “We have reached the clear conclusion that each of her decisions was right for the reasons she gave. It follows that the proposed appeal has no prospect of success and there is no other compelling reason for the court of appeal to hear an appeal,” they said.
Archie has been in a coma since April 7th when he suffered a catastrophic brain injury. His mother believes he choked while taking part in a viral social media challenge. On Wednesday, the Strasbourg court refused to intervene in the case, which was his parents’ last hope of preventing his life support being removed.
During Thursday’s hearing, the court heard from Ms C, Archie’s brother’s fiancee. She said the family believed Archie would not die with peace and dignity if his treatment was withdrawn at the hospital, partly due to a breakdown in trust. By contrast, she said the hospice would offer a more peaceful setting, had better facilities to accommodate the family, and Archie would be able to stay there for longer after his death than at the hospital.
But Dr F outlined a series of risks, including Archie’s blood pressure dropping, human error dislodging medication tubes when he was moved, or equipment failure.
“Archie has what she described as a bespoke care regime to meet his particular needs,” Theis said in her judgment. “Once he leaves the hospital Archie would be with people who would be unfamiliar with his particular care needs and would be caring for Archie in very different circumstances, in the confines of a vehicle and a reduced care team.”
Concluding her judgment, Theis said she recognized “the enormity of what lies ahead for Archie’s parents and the family. Their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case. 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.” – Guardian News and Media and PA
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