Death of Archie Battersbee, young Briton at the heart of a legal battle over the cessation of care

After a bitter legal battle led by his parents against the health system, Archie Battersbee, the 12-year-old Briton who had been brain dead for four months, died on Saturday August 6 after the cessation of treatment which kept him urge.

“Archie died at 12:15 p.m. today”, Hollie Dance, the mother of the young boy who has been in a coma in a London hospital since April, told television. The treatments that kept the boy alive had been interrupted about two hours earlier, after his parents had exhausted all legal remedies, before British and European justice, to oppose the cessation of treatment and then to request his transfer. in a palliative care facility.

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Archie Battersbee was found unconscious at his home on April 7 and has not regained consciousness since. According to his mother, he participated in a social media challenge to hold his breath until he passed out.

Plunged into a deep coma, the boy had no reaction, could not breathe without assistance, and the medical profession considered that he had no hope of recovery. On the contrary, his parents claimed to have observed signs of life.

Family appeals dismissed by court

On May 31, the British justice declared him dead, a decision against which his parents, refusing that the hospital disconnect the machines which keep him alive, had appealed.

On Tuesday August 2, the British Supreme Court rejected their request to continue the treatments. On Wednesday, two hours before the scheduled end of the boy’s life, the parents appealed again, this time to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), postponing the fateful deadline. But in the evening, it had rejected their appeal, judging their request inadmissible.

His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, who are supported by a Christian organization, had to resolve to let their son die. They had taken final legal challenges to have the child discharged from the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, and transferred to a hospice for termination of care, to no avail.

“Taking into account the wishes of the family and their motivations, the facilities in the care home, what Archie would have wanted, the risks of a transfer and his increasingly fragile health (…) I think it is in his interest to stay in the hospital for the cessation of treatment”, had estimated the judge of the High Court of London on Friday. The hospital considered his condition too unstable for a transfer, which could have “very likely to accelerate the degradation feared by the parents”.

The United Kingdom has, in the recent past, already been marked by two other comparable cases. In April 2018, a 23-month-old child, Alfie Evans, suffering from a rare neurodegenerative disease, died after a long legal battle by his parents against the cessation of treatment. His parents had notably received the support of Pope Francis, who had launched several appeals for the maintenance of the boy’s life. In 2017, Charlie Gard, suffering from a rare genetic disease, died shortly before his first birthday, after the cessation of artificial ventilation, despite the multiplication of appeals by his parents.

The World with AFP

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