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Archie Battersbee’s life support to be switched off tomorrow morning

Written by on 2 August 2022

Archie Battersbee’s life support will be switched off at 11am tomorrow, his family has said.

It comes hours after the parents of the brain-damaged 12-year-old lost a Supreme Court bid to block the withdrawal of his life-sustaining treatment.

The country’s top court dismissed the family’s application to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision yesterday to remove his life support.

Doctors treating him at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, believe he is brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.

Following the latest court ruling, his mother Hollie Dance said she “can’t take him home, can’t do anything”, adding: “It’s not right, Archie’s my child. It shouldn’t be down to other people to decide where he takes his last breath and if he lives or dies. It’s wrong.”

Ms Dance and Archie’s father Paul Battersbee had sought to extend his treatment to allow time for a United Nations committee to consider the child’s case.

Undated family handout photo of Archie Battersbee, 12, who's mother Hollie Dance, 46, is at the centre of a High Court life-treatment dispute has urged a judge to give the youngster Image: Archie has been on life support since April

Tonight Christian Concern, which has been supporting the legal action by Archie’s parents, said the Royal London Hospital had given the family until 9am tomorrow morning to file with the European Convention on Human Rights, otherwise the 11am deadline will be honoured.

More on Archie Battersbee

This afternoon, a panel of three Supreme Court judges refused permission for Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee to appeal, as they concluded the Court of Appeal “made the correct decision”.

The hospital trust treating Archie said it would work with the family to prepare for life support to end.

The Supreme Court panel said that while they have “great sympathy with the plight of Archie’s devoted parents who face a circumstance that is every parent’s nightmare – the loss of a much-loved child… there is no prospect of any meaningful recovery (by Archie)”.

“Even if life-sustaining treatment were to be maintained, Archie would die in the course of the next few weeks through organ failure and then heart failure.”

They added: “The maintenance of the medical regime, as (Mr Justice Hayden at the High Court) held in his very sympathetic judgment, ‘serves only to protract his death’.”

Archie Battersbee. Pic: Hollie Dance Image: Archie Battersbee. Pic: Hollie Dance

His parents had been granted a last-minute hearing at the Court of Appeal on Monday after the government asked it to urgently consider a request from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to keep treating Archie.

But after considering the case, appeal court judges refused to postpone the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment by Barts Health NHS Trust and said there would be a short stay put in place until 12pm today.

‘It’s disgraceful, it’s absolutely shameful’

Ms Dance said the hospital was “pushing” to end his life, adding: “It’s disgraceful, it’s absolutely shameful. Is that the way forward in this country that we are allowed to execute children. Because they have got disabilities?”

She said she was feeling “deflated” and accused the trust and courts of “destroying a whole family – it’s not right”, and she vowed to continue her fight “until the bitter end”.

She told reporters that she was with her son 24/7, and he was “progressing in so many ways. He’s on three medications, he’s absorbing feed, he’s gained weight”.

Undated family handout photo of Archie Battersbee with his mother Hollie Dance. A US-based doctor has told a judge asked to make decisions about the future of a boy at the centre of a life-support treatment dispute that he knows of cases where people diagnosed as being dead by Image: Archie and his mother Hollie Dance

NHS Trust – ‘Our deepest sympathies remain with Archie’s family’

Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Our deepest sympathies remain with Archie’s family. As directed by the courts, we will now work with the family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment. We aim to provide the best possible support to everyone at this difficult time.”

And a government spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Archie Battersbee’s family at this incredibly difficult time. It is right that decisions about Archie’s treatment are taken by expert doctors and the courts.”

Archie has been at the centre of a lengthy legal dispute since he was seriously injured in an incident at his home in Southend, Essex, in April.

Ms Dance found her son unconscious with a ligature over his head. She believes he took part in an online challenge.

He has been in a coma ever since and has not regained consciousness.

He is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.

The High Court previously ruled Archie’s treatment should come to an end because medics said he was “brain-stem dead”.

The Court of Appeal upheld that decision, and the Supreme Court refused to give the family more time to carry on their fight.

Archie Battersbee's father Paul Battersbee and mother Hollie Dance Image: Archie’s father Paul Battersbee and mother Hollie Dance

His family insisted the treatment should continue, saying the youngster’s heart was still beating, and he had gripped his mother’s hand.

His parents claim that stopping treatment 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 obligations say states must take all necessary measures to ensure disabled people enjoy equal rights, and that governments should do all they can to prevent the deaths of children and young people.

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