A 12-year-old English boy whose parents fought a lengthy legal battle to keep him on life support died Saturday, two hours after doctors ended his life-sustaining treatment.
Archie Battersbee died at 12:15 p.m., local time, at the Royal London hospital, according to his mother, Hollie Dance.
“Such a beautiful little boy and he fought right until the very end,” Dance said outside the hospital as she wept.
The heartbreaking ordeal, which has dominated British media for the last few months, began on April 7, when Dance found Archie unconscious at her home in Southend-on-Sea, about 40 miles east of London.
He was found with a ligature mark over his head, leading her to believe that he was likely taking part in an online challenge that went wrong.
Later that month, doctors determined that the boy was brain-stem dead and said that it would be in his best interest to stop life-support treatment. His parents disagreed, claiming that Archie would not have wanted them to give up hope.
After a series of court rulings and appeals, a judge agreed with doctors who said that continuing the boy’s treatment would simply “delay the inevitable.”
The parents then said they would appeal to the European court of human rights. After that application was denied, the family announced that they planned to move the boy to a hospice.
On Friday a judge agreed with the hospital that moving Archie to a hospice would not be in the boy’s best interest.
The family was informed that Archie’s life support would be turned off Saturday at 10 a.m.
“Their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case,″ High Court Judge Lucy 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.”
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According to the boy’s family, however, he did not die in peace.
“He went completely blue” after the ventilator was turned off, Ella Carter, fiancée of Archie’s eldest brother, 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,” she added.
Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, released a statement after the boy’s death.
“Members of his family were present at the bedside and our thoughts and heartfelt condolences remain with them at this difficult time,” the statement says in part, according to the BBC.
The trust thanked all medical, nursing and support staff who looked after the boy for providing “high-quality care with extraordinary compassion” in often “trying and distressing circumstances.”
With News Wire Services