The decision to terminate the life support of the brain-damaged 12-year-old Archie Battersbee was made by a British court, in spite of the parents’ fight to keep him alive. The parents were also refused to take the boy out of the hospital and put him in a hospice, where he could receive palliative care.
Archie Battersbee, who had been unconscious since sustaining an injury at the family's home in April, died on Saturday afternoon, following the termination of life support.
“It is with my deepest sympathy and sadness to tell you all that Archie passed at 12:15 today,” said Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance. “Such a beautiful little boy. And he fought right until the very end and I'm so proud to be his mum.”
The boys' parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, made unsuccessful appeals at Britain's highest courts and the European Court of Human Rights against ending the life support. But the ECHR refused to admit the case:
“The Court [...] decided not to issue the interim measure sought. It also decided to declare the applicants' complaints inadmissible,” the ECHR said in a statement following an application on Wednesday. “Therefore the Court will not interfere with the decisions of the national courts to allow the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from A.B. to proceed.” The parents requested to be able to remove the boy from a hospital and put him in a hospice to die, but this request was also refused.
“He came to this hospital to have an operation. This hospital failed him,” Hollie Dance, told reporters prior to the boy’s death. “So I would like him out of here as quick as possible, really. And in a peaceful hospice to say goodbye, to spend time with his family uninterrupted by noise and chaos.”
According to the doctors, moving the boy to a hospice could have worsened his situation.
Ella Carter a friend of Archie’s parents said that after the boy was taken off of medication, he initially remained stable, but after the doctors removed ventilation “he went completely blue”. Ms Carter concluded that “there is absolutely nothing dignified about watching a family member or a child suffocate. No family should ever have to go through what we have been through - it's barbaric.”
The parents believe that they were facing an uphill battle against an unfeeling system devoid of any compassion. Archie’s heartbroken mother said that the state effectively took away their right to make decisions about the well-being of their child. “The fact that as parents, we've got no rights for our children. It's disgusting.”
Polish President Andrzej Duda has said the way two-year-old Alfie Evans has been treated by a UK hospital is “cynical and mean”.see more
The case of Archie Battersbee was not the first one in which a UK court decided to terminate life support for a child, siding with the doctors over the protests of its parents. In 2018, Alfie Evans, a boy suffering from a neurodegenerative disorder, has his ventilatory support turned off and died five days later, less than two weeks before his second birthday. His case caused an international uproar. Pope Francis and Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke in defence of Alfie, with President Duda suggesting he could grant the boy Polish citizenship if the parents requested it and for him to be treated in a Polish hospital. Alfie Evans was eventually granted Italian citizenship, but ultimately he was not transferred to Italy and died in the same hospital in which he spent almost a year and a half of his life.