World · August 6, 2022

A 12-year-old British boy dies after life support is turned off



A London hospital on Saturday withdrew life support for 12-year-old British boy Archie Battersbee after his parents lost a long, emotional and divisive legal battle.

Archie’s mother Hollie Dance said her son died just over two hours after the artificial ventilation was stopped.

“Such a beautiful baby. He fought to the end, “he said told reporterssobbing, outside the Royal London Hospital.

“I’m the proudest mom in the world,” said Dance, after spending the night at her bedside with other relatives.

Dance found Archie unconscious at home in April with signs that he had put a rope around his neck, possibly after taking part in an online asphyxiation challenge.

At the entrance to the hospital in east London, supporters left flowers and postcards and lit candles in the shape of the letter “A”.

“My son is 12, the same age as Archie, and that puts things in perspective,” said Shelley Elias, 43, after leaving her own offers on the site on Saturday.

“I didn’t know what to write because there are no words that will take away the pain,” she said.

A judge in June agreed with doctors that Archie was “dead in the brain stem,” allowing life support to be cut off, but the family fought through the courts to overturn it.

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Claiming that Archie could benefit from treatment in Italy or Japan, they took their case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which refused to intervene this week.

The parents also lost one last desperate legal offer to move Archie to a hospice for his final hours.

“All legal avenues have been exhausted,” said a spokesman for the electoral group Christian Concern, who supported the family on Friday.

“The family is devastated and is spending precious time with Archie.”

‘Charlie’s Law’ –

The case is the latest in a series that has pitted parents against the UK legal and health system.

The involvement of groups like Christian Concern in support of desperate parents has drawn criticism for prolonging the pain of all concerned.

Such groups are often working on their own programs, according to Dominic Wilkinson, a professor of medical ethics at the University of Oxford.

“They may have different political or other views and (and) have reason to want to tell parents things that may not be accurate,” he told Sky.

After a tough battle between the hospital and his parents, 23-month-old Alfie Evans died in April 2018 when doctors in Liverpool, north-west England withdrew life support.

His parents had Pope Francis’ support to take him to a clinic in Rome, but they missed a final appeal in court just days before his death.

Charlie Gard, born in August 2016 with a rare form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, died a week before his first birthday after doctors withdrew life support.

His parents had fought a five-month legal battle for Charlie to be brought to the United States for experimental treatment, garnering the support of then-US President Donald Trump and evangelical groups.

Parents pushed the UK government to adopt “Charlie’s Law”, a bill that would strengthen parental rights when disputes arise over the treatment of their children.

“The whole system has been stacked against us,” Archie’s mother Dance said Friday, with many on social media also questioning her actions and family fundraising.

“Now the reform has to go through Charlie’s law so that no parent has to go through this.”

by Jitendra Joshi