Rachel Fieldhouse


“Our country have failed a 12-year– old”: Archie’s parents concede defeat

“Our country have failed a 12-year– old”: Archie’s parents concede defeat

After their fight to keep their 12-year-old son alive failed in the British courts, UK couple Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee have lost their appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to prevent his life-support treatment from ending.

After Archie Battersbee was found unconscious at home with a ligature over his head in early April, his parents have been fighting to prevent the Royal London Hospital from turning off his ventilator and stopping other interventions that are keeping him alive. 

Doctors believe Archie Battersbee is brain-stem dead and say it isn’t in his best interest to continue life-support treatment. 

Dance said the family’s lawyer submitted an application to the Strasbourg, the European human rights court based in France, hours before doctors planned to begin withdrawing Archie’s life-support on Wednesday.

However, the court said it would not “interfere with the decisions of the national courts to allow the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from [Archie] to proceed”.

Speaking to reporters outside the hospital, Dance appeared to concede that the fight to keep their son alive was over.

"It's the end, it was the last thing, wasn't it, and again our country have failed a 12-year-old child,” Dance said of their latest legal defeat.

Now, she wants to move Archie into a hospice to ensure he has a “dignified passing”.

"We've now got a fight to see whether we can get him out of here to have a dignified passing at a hospice. It's just unfair,” she said.

Earlier, she said the family “will not give up on Archie until the end”, and that they were considering offers from Japan and Italy to continue his treatment.

"There's other countries that want to treat him and I think that he should be allowed to go," Dance said.

Their case is the latest where the judgement of doctors has been pitted against the wishes of families, and is one of several that have been backed by religious pressure group, Christian Concern.

Under UK law, courts can intervene when parents and doctors disagree on a child’s treatment, with the rights of the child taking priority over the parents’ right to decide.

On Tuesday, the UK Supreme Court said Archie had “no prospect of any meaningful recovery”, and that he would still die from organ and heart failure in the next few weeks if treatment continued. The judges agreed with a lower court ruling that treatment “serves only to protract his death”.

Alistair Chesser, the chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, which operates the hospital treating Archie, said his life-support treatment would continue for now.

"As directed by the courts, we will work with the family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment, but we will make no changes to Archie's care until the outstanding legal issues are resolved,” Chesser said.

Image: Getty Images