Archie Battersbee, a 12-year-old boy whose parents have been fighting to keep him on life support after he fell into a coma in April, died Saturday morning after British courts ruled to suspend treatment.
“It’s with my deepest sympathy and sadness to tell you Archie passed at 12:15 today,” his mother, Hollie Dance, said from outside the hospital. “And can I just tell you, I’m the proudest mum 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 severe brain injuries. The British High Court ruled last month that the hospital should suspend life-sustaining treatment, deeming it “futile.” His family sealed the decision to the Supreme Court, and even asked the UN for support, but their appeals were rejected.
The family had asked for Battersbee to be transferred to hospice, but the High Court ruled he was too medically unstable. Treatment was suspended after the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights declined to intervene.
“Such a beautiful little boy and he fought right to the very end and I’m so proud to be his mum,” Dance said from outside the Royal London Hospital in east London.
The case is one of several high-profile instances in recent years of British courts intervening when doctors and families are at odds on the best course of treatment. Dominic Wilkinson, a professor of medical ethics at the University of Oxford, previously told The New York Times that there had 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 argued he was doing better than the physicians claimed. The court ultimately sided with the physicians, ruling that there was “no hope at all of recovery,” and that continuing treatment would serve “only to protract his death, whilst being unable to prolong his life.”
Supporters of the family made a tribute outside the hospital with candles in the shape of the letter A, according to The Guardian. Ella Carter, a family member, told the outlet that watching Battersbee die was “barbaric.”
“There is absolutely nothing dignified about watching a family member or a child suffocate,” she said. “No family should ever have to go through what we have been through.”
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer of Barts Health NHS trust, said his “heartfelt condolences” remain with the family.
“This tragic case not only affected the family and his carers but touched the hearts of many across the country,” he said.