Archie Battersbee, a 12-year-old boy whose parents had been trying to keep him alive after falling into a coma in April, died on Saturday morning after a British court ruled to suspend treatment.
“It is with deepest sympathy and sadness that I tell you that Archie passed away today at 12:15,” his mother, Hollie Dance, said outside the hospital. “I can tell you I’m the proudest mom in the world.”
Dance and Buttersby’s father has been trying to keep the boy alive since he was found unconscious with severe brain damage at his home on April 7. Britain’s High Court ruled last month that hospitals should suspend life-sustaining treatment, finding it “futile”. His family sealed the decision to the Supreme Court and even petitioned the United Nations for support, but their appeal was rejected.
The family had called for Buttersby to be transferred to hospice, but the High Court ruled his condition was too unstable. Treatment was suspended after the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene.
“Such a beautiful little boy who fought to the end and I’m proud to be his mum,” Danes said outside the Royal London Hospital in east London.
The case is one of several high-profile cases in recent years in which UK courts have intervened when doctors and families disagreed about the best course of treatment. Dominic Wilkinson, professor of medical ethics at Oxford University, previously told The New York Times There have been 20 such cases in the UK over the past decade.
In this case, Buttersby’s doctor believed he was brain dead, while his family believed he was in better condition than the doctor claimed. The court ultimately sided with the doctor, ruling that there was “completely no hope of recovery” and continued treatment “would only prolong his death, not his life.”
Supporters of the family reportedly paid tribute with candles in the shape of the letter A outside the hospital protector. Family member Ella Carter told the media it was “barbaric” to watch Buttersby die.
“There is absolutely no dignity in watching a family member or a child suffocate,” she said. “No family should be going through what we are going through.”
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer of the Barts Health NHS Trust, said his family remained “deeply saddened”.
“This tragic case not only affects the family and his carers, but touches the hearts of many across the country,” he said.