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

A 12-year-old British boy who was brain dead for four months, Archie Battersbee, died on Saturday after the treatment that kept him alive was cut off, following a bitter legal battle waged by his parents against the health system . “Archie died at 12.15pm today,” Hollie Dance, the boy’s mother, who had been kept in a coma in an east London hospital since April, told TV. “He fought until the very end,” she tearfully said, “so proud to be his mum.”

The treatments that kept the young 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 to a palliative care facility. The child “died on Saturday afternoon at the London Royal Hospital in London after his treatment was stopped, in accordance with court decisions about his interest”, confirmed in a press release Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer of the hospital group. . “Members of his family were at his bedside,” he added, offering them his condolences and highlighting the work of the caregivers and the emotion created in the country by this case.


One of the boy’s family members, Ella Carter, said he was stable “for two hours” until life support was completely removed. “There is absolutely nothing dignified about watching a family member or a child suffocate,” “no family should have to go through what we went through, it’s barbaric,” he said. she adds. 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 British justice 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 taken final legal action to have their son left the Royal London Hospital and transferred to a palliative care facility, in vain.

‚ÄúTaking 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 he is in his interest in staying in the hospital for the cessation of treatment”, estimated the judge at the High Court in London on Friday. The hospital considered his condition too unstable for a transfer, which could “very likely accelerate the deterioration feared by the parents”.

Online Challenge

Archie Battersbee was 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 to hold his breath until he passed out. His parents claimed to have seen signs of life but for the medical profession, his case is hopeless, justifying the cessation of treatment.

In a statement Friday evening, the hospital group in charge of the care of Archie Battersbee expressed its “deep sympathy” towards the family of the young boy. “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 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, 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.

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