Archie Battersbee: 12-year-old boy dies hours after hospital ends life support against parents’ wishes
British law allows for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on a child’s medical treatment
A 12-year-old boy who was comatose in the United Kingdom has died after a lengthy legal battle ended with the determination that doctors could remove him from life support.
Archie Battersbee, 12, died at a London hospital around noon on Saturday, about two hours after doctors discontinued treating him. Young Archie has been in a coma since April 7, when he was initially found unconscious in the family’s home.
Ella Carter, the fiancée of Archie’s eldest brother, Tom, said the family watched the boy’s final moments.
“He went completely blue,” she said. “There is absolutely nothing dignified about watching a family member or a child suffocate. No family should ever have to go through what we’ve been through. It’s barbaric.”
Battersbee’s situation became the latest legal feud that pitted the will of parents against the advice of doctors.
His parents advocated for keeping their son alive by extending treatment or moving Archie to a hospice, while doctors said it was in Archie’s best interest to be taken off of life support.
Doctors at the Royal London Hospital argued Archie was brain-stem dead and should be allowed to die. They pushed to end the treatment that kept him alive, which included artificial respiration, medication to regulate his bodily functions and round-the-clock nursing care.
The hospital also testified that Archie’s condition was unstable and that moving him would hasten his death.
His family objected and said they would not give up hope.
On Friday, High Court Judge Lucy Theis sided with the doctors, against the parents’ wishes, ruling Archie should remain in the hospital and for his treatment to be withdrawn.
He died hours later.
“Their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case,″ Theis wrote in her decision. “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.” The European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene in the case.
A tearful Hollie Dance, Battersbee’s mother, said she was “the proudest mum in the world.”
“Such a beautiful little boy and he fought right until the very end,” she added outside of the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, following the boy’s death.
The case continues a widely debated topic in the UK around how such cases should be handled and if the court should have any say in the situation — or if such disagreements should be decided away from the courts.
In 2017, a legal battle over the life of Charlie Gard, an infant with a rare genetic disorder, made headlines around the world. In the case, the will of the parents were again pitted against those of medical professionals. The parents pushed for their son to undergo experimental treatment before a court sided with doctors, who argued for ending life support.
British law allows for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on a child’s medical treatment, and a judge is then tasked with determining the best interests of the child.
Battersbee has been unconscious since April 7. His parents believe he may have been taking part in an online challenge that went wrong.
A viral “blackout challenge” on TikTok has led to the deaths of other children, including a 9-year-old girl in Wisconsin and an 8-year-old girl in Texas, whose parents are suing the social media platform.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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