A 12-year-old boy who had been in a coma for four months died in a London hospital on Saturday after doctors ended life-sustaining treatment which was the subject of a long legal battle.
Archie Battersbee’s mother, Hollie Dance, said he died at 12:15 p.m. local time, about two hours after the hospital began to halt treatment.
British courts had rejected the family’s request to transfer Archie to a hospice, and the European Court of Human Rights declined to intervene in the case for a second time.
“He fought until the very end,” Dance said, crying outside the hospital. “I’m the proudest mom in the world.”
Archie’s care was the subject of weeks of legal arguments as his parents sought to force the hospital to continue life-saving treatments, while doctors argued there was no chance of recovery and that he should be allowed to die.
The family sought permission to move the boy to a hospice after UK courts ruled it was in his best interests to end treatment.
The hospital said Archie’s condition was so unstable that moving him would hasten his death.
On Friday, High Court Judge Lucy Theis dismissed the family’s request, saying Archie should remain in hospital while treatment is stopped.
The dispute is the latest UK case pitting the judgment of doctors against the will of families.
Under UK law, it is common for the courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree over a child’s medical treatment.
In such cases, the best interests of the child take precedence over the parents’ right to decide what they think is best for their offspring.
Archie was found unconscious at home with a ligature on his head on April 7. His parents think he may have participated in an online challenge gone wrong.
Doctors concluded that Archie had died of the brainstem shortly after the accident and sought to end the long list of treatments that were keeping him alive, including artificial respiration, drugs to regulate his bodily functions and 24 hour nursing care.
But his family objected, saying Archie had shown signs of life and wouldn’t have wanted them to give up hope.
Ella Carter, fiancée of Archie’s older brother Tom, said Archie was stable for about two hours after the hospital stopped all medication. That changed when the fan was turned off, she said.
“He turned completely blue,” she said. “There is absolutely nothing dignified about watching a family member or child suffocate. No family should have to go through what we went through. It’s barbaric.
Carter rested her head on Dance’s shoulder and sobbed as the two women hugged.
The hospital expressed its condolences and thanked the doctors and nurses who cared for Archie.
“They provided high quality care with extraordinary compassion for many months in often trying and distressing circumstances,” said Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital.
“This tragic case not only affected the family and their caregivers, but touched the hearts of many people across the country.”