Boy at heart of UK court battle dies after life support ends

Written by Javed Iqbal

LONDON — 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 that was the subject of a lengthy legal battle.

Archie Battersbee’s mother, Hollie Dance, said he died at 12:15 p.m., about two hours after the hospital began withdrawing treatment. British courts had rejected the family’s request to transfer Archie to a hospice, and the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene for the second time.

“He fought until the end,” Dance said, crying outside the hospital. “I am the proudest mother in the world.”

Archie’s care became the subject of weeks of legal arguments as his parents tried to force the hospital to continue life-sustaining treatments and doctors argued there was no chance of recovery and he should be allowed to die.

The family asked for permission to move Archie to a hospice after British 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, Supreme Court Justice Lucy Theis rejected the family’s request, saying Archie should remain in hospital while treatment was withdrawn.

“I return to where I started and recognize the enormity of what lies ahead for Archie’s parents and family. Their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case,” Thies wrote in his decision . “I now hope that Archie can be given the opportunity to die in peaceful circumstances with the family that meant as much to him as he clearly does to them.”

The dispute is the latest British case to pit doctors’ judgment against families’ wishes. Under UK law, it is common for the courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree about a child’s medical treatment. In such cases, the best interests of the child override the parents’ right to decide what they think is best for their offspring.

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Javed Iqbal

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