Archie Battersby, a 12-year-old whose parents struggled to keep him on life support after falling into a coma in April, died on Saturday morning after British courts ruled treatment should be halted.
“It is with my deepest sympathy and sadness to inform you that Archie passed away at 12:15 today,” his mother, Holly Dance, said from outside the hospital. “And can I just tell you, I am the most proud mother in the entire world.”
Dance and Buttersby’s father has been fighting to keep the boy alive since he was discovered unconscious at home on April 7 with a serious brain injury. The British High Court ruled last month that the hospital should suspend life-sustaining treatment, deeming it “useless”. His family sealed the decision before the Supreme Court, asking the United Nations to support it, but their appeal was rejected.
The family had requested that Battersby be moved to a hospice, but the Supreme Court ruled he was medically unstable. Treatment was suspended after the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene.
“What a beautiful little boy he fought to the end and I am so proud to be his mother,” said Dance outside the Royal London Hospital in east London.
The case is one of several high-profile cases in recent years in which British courts have intervened when doctors and families disagreed about the best course of treatment. Dominic Wilkinson, Professor of Medical Ethics at Oxford University, told The The New York Times There have been 20 such cases in the UK in the past decade.
In this case, Battersby’s doctors believed he was brain dead, while his family argued that he was doing better than the doctors claimed. The court eventually sided with the doctors, ruling that “there is no hope whatsoever of a cure,” and that continuing treatment would only “prolong his death, while he is incapable of prolonging his life.”
Family supporters honored outside the hospital with A-shaped candles, according to Watchman. Family member Ella Carter told the outlet that watching Battersby die was “barbaric.”
“There is absolutely nothing respectful in watching a family member or a child choke,” she said. “No family should have to go through what we went through.”
Alistair Chaeser, chief medical officer of the NHS Barts Health Trust, said his “heartfelt condolences” remain with the family.
“This tragic case has not only affected the family and his caregivers, but touched the hearts of many across the country,” he said.