Archie Battersbee's life support to be removed after hospice bid fails

The systems keeping 12-year-old Archie Battersbee alive will be switched off on Saturday, after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said it could not intervene as the case "fell outside" its remit. Battersbee's mother Hollie Dance had applied to the court to allow Archie to be moved to a hospice for his final days, after the UK's highest courts decided doctors should remove life support as there was no chance of the child ever recovering from catastrophic brain injuries. 

The boy's family felt he would not die "in peace" at the Royal London Hospital. 

Dance told UK broadcaster Sky News she had come to terms with the fact there were no further options open to her and Archie. "I've done everything that I promised my little boy I'd do. I've done it," she said. 

Battersbee's family said they will now spend the remaining time of their son's life by his side. A family spokesperson said they were "devastated."

On Friday, High Court Justice Theis said the decision was reached with "Archie's best interests... at the core of any conclusions." She concluded the risks of moving Battersbee were too high. 

"When considering the wishes of the family, why those wishes are held, the facilities at the hospice, what Archie is likely to have wanted, … the risks involved in a transfer … and the increasing fragility of his medical condition, I am satisfied that when looking at the balancing exercise again his best interests remain as set out (in the ruling of 15 July), that he should remain at the hospital when treatment is withdrawn," she said.  


Archie Battersbee was legally declared brain dead after a serious accident at home./Hollie Dance

Archie Battersbee was legally declared brain dead after a serious accident at home./Hollie Dance

Who is Archie Battersbee and why is he on life support?

Archie Battersbee is a 12-year-old boy who became the center of a long legal battle when he was severely injured in an accident at his home in Southend, England, in April.

Archie's mother Hollie Dance found her son unconscious in April with signs he had placed a cord over his head and around his neck. She believes he was taking part in an online 'asphyxiation challenge.'

Since the incident he has not regained consciousness and was kept alive by medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.


Archie's parents refused for him to have a brain stem death test. /Hollie Dance

Archie's parents refused for him to have a brain stem death test. /Hollie Dance

Why was his case heard at court?

After he was transferred to the Royal London Hospital, doctors told the boy's family they believed his brain damage was so severe that he may be 'brain-stem dead.' That means there are no signals picked up by medical equipment from Archie's brain, meaning if life support is removed he would not be able to survive. 

Doctors then asked the family if they could carry out a brain stem death test, but Archie's parents denied consent. This was down to the risk involved in moving Archie even the short distance to a MRI scanner. 

Medical staff tried to bring the case to the High Court in London for permission for the test to be carried out, asking the judge to decide what course of action was in Archie's best interests.

The test was never conducted, despite multiple court hearings to determine whether he should continue to keep receiving life-sustaining treatment.

Instead of turning off his life support, Archie's parents wanted him to be taken to a country such as Turkyie or Japan, where he can continue to receive treatment.

They claim that stopping his life support would be in breach of the UK's obligations under Articles 10 and 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.

These international rules say nations should do all they can to prevent the deaths of children and young people, and take all necessary measures to make sure disabled people enjoy equal rights, including the right to life.


The family has fought the doctor's decision in all the courts possible to do so./Hollie Dance

The family has fought the doctor's decision in all the courts possible to do so./Hollie Dance

How did Archie's case reach the UN?

In early June, a UK judge ruled that Archie had officially died on May 31 based on a brain scan, adding that his life support treatment could now stop.

Archie's parents, however, won an appeal for the case to be reconsidered, by a new hearing with a new judge.  

But on July 15 the second judge reinforced the earlier ruling, saying that any further treatment was "futile."

Attempting to further appeal, Archie's family sent an application UN's Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (UNRPD). 

Archie had been due to have his life support withdrawn at the end of July, but UN representatives asked the UK government to delay withdrawing life support while it assessed the case.

The UK Court of Appeal allowed a hearing on Monday after the government also urged judges to consider his parents' UN application, but eventually ruled against the family, refusing to give them permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

However, they did grant a delay until August 1, while his parents filed an application directly with the Supreme Court.

The judges said they had "great sympathy" with Archie's parents, but rejected the appeal saying there was "no prospect of any meaningful recovery."

Where is the case now?

Archie's life support at the Royal London Hospital was turned off at 1100GMT on Saturday.

His parents made one last-ditch attempt via the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to allow their son to be moved to a hospice, but their plea was not heard by the Court, as it said it was not part of its jurisdiction. 


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