Archie Battersbee, a 12-year-old boy whose parents have fought to keep him alive after falling into a coma in April, died Saturday morning after British courts decided to suspend treatment.
“It is with my deepest condolences and sadness that I have to tell you that Archie passed away at 12:15 today,” said his mother, Hollie Dance, from outside the hospital. “And may I tell you that I am the proudest mother in the whole world.”
Dance and Battersbee’s father had been fighting to keep the boy alive since he was discovered unconscious at home on April 7 with serious brain injuries. Last month, the UK’s Supreme Court ruled that the hospital must suspend life-prolonging treatment and considers it “useless”. His family sealed the decision to the Supreme Court and even asked the UN for support, but their appeal was rejected.
The family had requested that Battersbee be transferred to a hospice, but the Supreme Court ruled that he was too unstable medically. The hearing was suspended after the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene.
“Such a lovely little boy and he fought to the end and I am so proud to be his mother,” Dance said from outside the Royal London Hospital in East London.
The case is one of many high-profile cases in recent years where British courts have intervened when doctors and families disagreed on the best treatment. Dominic Wilkinson, a professor of medical ethics at Oxford University, previously told The New York Times that there had 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 claimed he was doing better than the doctors claimed. The court ultimately sided with the doctors, ruling that there was “no hope at all for recovery” and that continuing treatment “would only prolong his death while he would not be able to prolong his life”.
Supporters of the family paid tribute outside the hospital with candles in the shape of the letter A, it said the guard. Ella Carter, a relative, told the outlet it was “barbaric” to see Battersbee die.
“There is absolutely nothing dignified about watching a family member or child choke,” she said. “No family should ever go through what we went through.”
Barts Health NHS Trust chief medical officer Alistair Chesser said his “heartfelt condolences” remain with the family.
“This tragic case not only affected the family and its carers, but also touched the hearts of many across the country,” he said.