British child Archie Battersbee dies after family loses legal fight

Mother Hollie Dance confirms death of boy, 12, at the Royal London Hospital

Archie Battersbee's family had exhausted their legal options to keep him on life support. PA
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A British boy who had been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother in April has died aged 12, after the family lost a legal battle to keep him on life support.

Archie Battersbee died at the Royal London Hospital at 12.15pm, his mother Hollie Dance said.

"He was such a beautiful little boy," she told journalists outside the hospital. "He fought right until the very end and I am so proud to be his mum.”

Archie was in a coma with severe brain injury. Doctors said he was unresponsive and had no prospect of meaningful recovery. Supporters brought flowers to the hospital after it was announced that the end of the legal road had been reached.

Ella Carter, a relative, said ventilation was removed on Saturday and said there was "nothing dignified" about his death.

The hospital's chief medical officer Alistair Chesser said doctors had provided "high quality care with extraordinary compassion over several months in often trying and distressing circumstances".

The High Court ruled last month that keeping Archie on life support was not in his best interest because the treatment was futile and would only delay his death.

The family appealed but its legal options were exhausted when the Supreme Court upheld the decision. Judges separately ruled that he should not be taken to a hospice to die.

An intervention by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which called for a delay, failed to sway the judges because the request had no force in English law. The European Court of Human Rights declined to weigh in on the case.

Mr Justice Hayden, the High Court judge who ruled on the case, described it as a "tragedy of immeasurable dimension for Archie and for his family".

"Archie was a fireball of energy, a tornado of unbridled enthusiasm for life and for people," he wrote in his judgment.

Archie's mother Hollie Dance, second left, outside the Royal London Hospital. PA

His mother found him with a ligature around the neck on April 7 and Archie suffered a catastrophic brain injury. The court heard that this was thought to be an accident.

The court said that Archie could not feel pain or comfort or breathe without a ventilator and that the treatment served "only to protract his death, whilst being unable to prolong his life".

It was the latest in a series of harrowing cases to come before the British courts about whether a gravely sick child should be kept alive. The cases of Alta Fixsler and Alfie Evans similarly stirred high emotions and debate.

The judges said it was Archie's interests, and not that of the parents, that should be taken into account.

The High Court ruling said the family had, understandably, been "ambushed by their emotions and overwhelmed by an intensity of grief that has compromised their objectivity".

Updated: August 06, 2022, 4:02 PM