Parents of UK boy in right to life case lose bid for hospice care

Family want to keep Archie Battersbee on life support despite doctors' advice

The parents of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee want him transferred to a hospice before his life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn. PA
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The parents of 12-year-old British boy Archie Battersbee on Friday lost a last-ditch bid to move him to a hospice to die after accepting their legal battle to keep him on life support was over.

The family ran out of judicial options to keep the comatose boy on life support after the European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday declined to intervene, ending Britain's latest high-profile medical ethics case.

They also failed in an initial UK court bid on Friday to allow Archie to spend his final hours in a hospice, rather than in hospital.

They applied to the Court of Appeal, but on Friday evening, the court confirmed that permission to appeal against the decision had been refused.

Archie's mother, Hollie Dance, found her son unconscious at home in April with signs he had placed a ligature over his head, possibly after taking part in an online asphyxiation challenge.

She wants to take Archie abroad for treatment.

Ms Dance said on Friday that the family was “broken but we are keeping going, because we love Archie and refuse to give up on him”.

Archie's life support at the Royal London Hospital had been due to end on Monday after the family lost in the domestic courts.

But the 12-year-old's parents sought a last-minute ruling from the European Court of Human Rights to keep him alive and he continued to receive treatment as the legal fight continued.

The Strasbourg-based court said on Wednesday, however, that it had “decided not to issue the interim measure sought”.

It said that the application was “inadmissible” and such requests were only granted on an “exceptional basis”.

Archie Battersbee with his mother, Hollie Dance. PA

The family then turned their legal bid towards moving him to a hospice.

The hospital's governing trust has said it will not make any changes to Archie's care “until the outstanding legal issues are resolved”.

UK courts ruled that ending life-preserving treatment for Archie was in his best interest as doctors believe he is brain-stem dead.

He is currently being kept alive through a series of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.

Ms Dance has said that doctors in Japan and Italy had offered to treat her son.

“If this country can't treat him or is not willing to treat him, where's the harm in allowing him to go to another country?” she asked reporters.

The case is the latest in a series that have pitted parents against Britain's court and healthcare systems.

After a highly charged battle between the hospital and his parents, 23-month-old Alfie Evans died in April 2018 when doctors in Liverpool, in north-western England, withdrew life support.

His parents, who had the support of Pope Francis, wanted to take him to a clinic in Rome but lost a final court appeal days before he died.

Charlie Gard, born in August 2016 with a rare form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, died one week short of his first birthday after doctors withdrew life support.

His parents had fought a five-month legal battle for him to be taken to the US for experimental treatment.

The case drew broad sympathy, including from then-US president Donald Trump and Pope Francis, while 350,000 people signed a petition demanding he be allowed to go to the US.

Updated: August 05, 2022, 10:07 PM