LONDON (Reuters) – Archie Battersby, a 12-year-old British boy whose life support was withdrawn after a legal battle between his parents and his doctors, died on Saturday, bringing to an end another agonizing issue over who makes life and death, the mother said. Decisions for a seriously ill child.
Archie has been in a deep coma since his mother found him unconscious at their home in Essex, southeast England, on April 7, with something strapped around his neck. His mother, Holly Dance, said he may have been participating in an online challenge.
In a series of decisions, the judges found Archie had suffered severe brain damage and that the burdens of treating his condition “along with the utter lack of opportunity for recovery” outweighed the benefits of continuing to keep him alive on a ventilator.
Archie’s family appealed the rulings, saying they wanted to let him die at a time “that God chooses.” They argued that because of his Christian beliefs and the ideas he had expressed in the past, Archie should have continued life support.
On Wednesday evening, after an unsuccessful appeal to three different courts within a week, the family requested that Archie be moved to a hospice. Doctors at the Royal London Hospital refused due to the risks associated with his transfer, saying it was likely to cause “early deterioration”, and the family’s legal efforts to overturn the decision were also dismissed.
Ms Dance called the doctors’ decision to schedule a date when life support would be carried out a “planned execution of my son”. She asked why “fathers are deprived of their decisions and rights.”
In Britain, when parents and doctors disagree about what is in a child’s best interests, the court is called to decide. In recent years, similar high-profile cases have emerged, such as that of Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans. Pope Francis has studied both cases, and Donald J. Trump, when he was president, offered help from the United States to 11-month-old Charlie.
Experts said such dilemmas reflect a shift from the time doctors made the final call, with decisions being seen as not only medical, but ethical as well. If parents disagree with doctors, near-impossible questions will be asked, such as what kind of life is worth living and how severe the child’s condition is before considering there is no chance of recovery.
In Archie’s case, doctors said they believed his brainstem was dead. However, due to the lack of response, doctors were unable to perform a full brain stem test, so he was not legally declared dead.
At the hearings, the judges upheld the medical evidence supporting the conclusion that Archie had no prospect of recovery. They ruled that medical support “only serves to prolong his death, while it is unable to prolong his life,” according to court documents.
Ms. Dance said Archie’s condition was better than the one doctors had described to the court. He’s showing signs of improvement, she said, adding that he even squeezed her hand.
Archie’s father, Paul Battersby, maintained a lower profile during the legal battles, but supported efforts to continue life support.
Dominic Wilkinson, professor of medical ethics at Oxford University, said the issue reverted to a fundamental question.
“It’s about what the medicine is” He said. “He made us better, he made us able to live and enjoy our lives. But sometimes, all medication can do is prolong your dying period. And sometimes, medication does more harm than good.”
But, he added, doctors and families sometimes disagreed on this topic.
“Families may sometimes want to extend life at all costs, while health professionals realize that medicine has reached its natural limits,” he said.
Last week, after the British Supreme Court refuse to interfere To postpone the withdrawal of the life support device, Ms. Dance has applied to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a branch of the organization’s human rights agency. The agency said it had asked the British government to refrain from withdrawing the treatment while the case was under consideration.
“All we asked for was more time,” Ms. Dance said in a statement at the time. “The urgency of the hospital and the courts is unjustified.”
“I don’t think there is anything ‘respectful’ about planning Archie’s death,” she added. “Parents need support, not pressure.”
But on Monday, the court refused to extend the pause beyond midday on Tuesday, arguing that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, under which the UN panel had applied, was an “unincorporated international treaty” and that the decision to withdraw life support could stand.
On Tuesday, the family asked to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court, but the request was denied. The next morning, they submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights, which refused to intervene.
On Saturday, shortly after his life support devices were pulled out at 10 a.m., Archie died.
“I don’t want any other parents to go through what we’ve been through,” Ms Dance told Times Radio on Wednesday, adding that she intends to continue raising awareness about issues such as online challenges that children participate in, and “using Archie’s story in hopes of saving their lives.” .