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A 12-year-old boy who was in a coma in the UK has died after a long legal battle ended with the determination that doctors could remove him from life support.
Archie Battersbee, 12, died in a London hospital around noon on Saturday, around two hours after doctors stopped treating him. Young Archie has been in a coma since April 7, when he was initially found unconscious at the family home.
Ella Carter, the fiancée of Archie’s older brother Tom, said the family watched the boy’s final moments.
“He turned completely blue,” she said. “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.”
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Battersbee’s situation has become the latest legal wrangle that has pitted parents’ wishes against doctors’ advice.
His parents pleaded to keep their son alive by extending treatment or moving Archie to hospice, while doctors said it was in Archie’s best interests to be taken off life support.
Doctors at the Royal London Hospital have argued that Archie died of the brainstem and should be allowed to die. They pushed to end the treatment that was keeping him alive, which included artificial respiration, drugs to regulate his bodily functions and round-the-clock nursing care.
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The hospital also testified that Archie’s condition was unstable and that moving him would hasten his death.
Her family opposed it and said they would not give up hope.
On Friday, High Court Judge Lucy Theis sided with the doctors, against the wishes of the parents, ruling that Archie should remain in hospital and his treatment should be halted.
He died a few hours later.
“Their unconditional love and devotion to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case,” Theis wrote in her decision. “I now hope that Archie will be given the opportunity to die in peaceful circumstances, with the family that meant so much to him as he clearly does to them.” The European Court of Human Rights declined to intervene in the case. the case.
In tears, Hollie Dance, Battersbee’s mum, said she was “the proudest mom in the world”.
“Such a beautiful little boy and he fought until the very end,” she added outside the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, after the boy’s death.
The case pursues a widely debated topic in the UK about how such cases should be handled and whether the court should have a say in the situation – or whether such disagreements should be decided out of court.
In 2017, a legal battle over the life of Charlie Gard, an infant with a rare genetic condition, made headlines around the world. In this case, the will of the parents again clashed with that of the health professionals. The parents pushed for their son to undergo experimental treatment in a court that sided with doctors, who argued for an end to life support.
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UK law allows the courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree over a child’s medical treatment, and a judge is then responsible for determining the child’s best interests.
Battersbee has been unconscious since April 7. His parents think he may have participated in an online challenge gone wrong.
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A viral “blackout challenge” on TikTok has resulted in the deaths of other children, including a 9-year-old girl in Wisconsin and an 8-year-old girl in Texas, whose parents are suing the social media platform.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.