Death of a young British man at the heart of a legal battle over the cessation of care
A 12-year-old British boy who had been brain dead for four months, Archie Battersbee, died on Saturday after the care that kept him alive was stopped, at the end of a bitter legal battle waged by his parents against the health system.
“Archie died at 12.15PM today,” Hollie Dance, the young boy’s mother, who had been kept in a coma in an East London hospital since April, told TELEVISION.
“He fought until the very end,” she said tearfully, “so proud to be his mom”.
The treatments that kept the young boy alive had been interrupted about two hours earlier, after his parents had exhausted all avenues of appeal, before the British and European courts, to oppose the cessation of care and then to request his transfer to a palliative care facility.
The child “died on Saturday afternoon at the London Royal Hospital in London after the cessation of his treatments, in accordance with the decisions of the courts about his interest,” confirmed in a statement Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer of the hospital group. “Members of his family were at his bedside,” he added, offering his condolences to them and highlighting the work of the caregivers and the emotion created in the country by this case.
– “Barbarian” –
One of the child’s family members, Ella Carter, said that he remained stable “for two hours” until the complete withdrawal of respiratory assistance. “There is absolutely nothing dignified about watching a family member or a child suffocate,” “no family should have to go through what we have gone through, it is barbaric,” she added.
From Saturday morning, flowers or candles arranged to form an A or a heart were placed by supporters at the foot of a statue facing the hospital.
Archie Battersbee was considered brain dead and the British court had authorized the hospital in mid-July to end the treatments that kept him alive.
His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, supported by a Christian organization, had launched final legal actions to have their son leave the Royal London Hospital, and be transferred to a palliative care facility, 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 best interest to stay in the hospital for the cessation of care,” the judge ruled at the High Court in London on Friday.
The hospital considered his condition too unstable for a transfer, which could “most likely accelerate the degradation feared by the parents”.
– Challenge on the internet –
Archie Battersbee had been found unconscious at his home on April 7 and had never regained consciousness since. According to his mother, he participated in a social media challenge consisting of holding his breath until he passed out.
Her parents claimed to have noticed signs of life but for the medical profession, her case is hopeless, justifying the cessation of care.
In a statement on Friday evening, the hospital group responsible for Archie Battersbee’s care expressed its “deep sympathy” to the young boy’s family. “As ordered by the courts, we will work with the family to prepare for the cessation of treatment, but we will not make any changes to Archie’s care until the outstanding legal issues are resolved,” the statement continued.
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, with a rare neurodegenerative disease, had died after a long legal fight by his parents against the cessation of care. In particular, his parents had received the support of Pope Francis, who had launched several calls for the boy to be kept alive.
In 2017, Charlie Gard, suffering from a rare genetic disease, died shortly before his first birthday, after stopping artificial ventilation despite the multiplication of appeals by his parents.
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