Boy at heart of UK lawsuit dies after life support ends

Danica Kirka, The Associated Press

Published Saturday, August 6, 2022 10:36 AM EDT

LONDON (AP) – A 12-year-old boy, who has been in a coma for four months, died Saturday in a London hospital after doctors ended a life-prolonging treatment that had been the subject of a lengthy legal battle.

Archie Battersbee’s mother, Hollie Dance, said he died at 12:15 p.m., about two hours after the hospital began ceasing treatment. British courts had rejected the family’s request to transfer Archie to a hospice, and the European Court of Human Rights refused for a second time to intervene in the case.

“He fought to the end,” Dance said crying outside the hospital. “I am the proudest mother in the world.”

Archie’s concern became the subject of weeks of legal disputes as his parents tried to force the hospital to continue life-prolonging treatments and doctors argued there was no chance of recovery and he should be allowed to die.

The family requested permission to move Archie to a hospice after British courts ruled it was in his best interest to end treatment. The hospital said Archie’s condition was so unstable that moving him would hasten his death.

On Friday, Supreme Court Justice Lucy Theis rejected the family’s request, saying Archie should remain in the hospital while treatment was halted.

“I return to where I started and recognize the enormity of what lies ahead for Archie’s parents and family. Their unconditional love and devotion to Archie is a common thread that runs through this case,” Thies wrote in her conclusion. “I hope Archie now has the chance to die in peaceful circumstances, with the family who meant as much to him as he clearly does to them.”

The dispute is the latest British case in which doctors’ verdicts go against families’ wishes. Under UK law, it is common for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree about a child’s medical treatment. In such cases, the best interests of the child take precedence over the parents’ right to decide what they believe is best for their offspring.

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