A London hospital took off life support from 12-year-old British boy Archie Battersby on Saturday after his parents lost a long, emotional and divisive legal battle.
Archie’s mother Holly Dance said her son died just two hours after artificial ventilation was stopped.
“Such a beautiful little boy. He fought until the very end,” she told reporters, sobbing outside the Royal London Hospital.
“I’m the proudest mother in the world,” Dance said, after spending the night in his bed with other relatives.
Dans found Archie unconscious at home, possibly with signs of a rope tied around his neck, after taking part in an online breathing challenge.
At the hospital’s entrance in east London, well-wishers left flowers and cards and lit candles in the shape of the letter “A”.
“My son is 12, the same age as Archie, and it just puts things into perspective,” said Shelley Elias, 43, after leaving her own offering at the site earlier Saturday.
“I didn’t know what to write because there are no words to take away the pain,” she said.
In June a judge agreed with doctors that Archie was “brain-stem dead”, allowing life support to be turned off, but the family fought a court battle to overturn that.
Arguing that Archie could benefit from treatment in Italy or Japan, they took their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which this week declined to intervene.
The parents lost a last legal bid to transfer Archie to a hospital for his final hours.
“All legal avenues have been exhausted,” a spokesman for Christian Concern, a campaign supporting the family, said late Friday.
“The family are devastated and are spending precious time with Archie.”
The case is the latest in a series that has pitted parents against Britain’s legal and healthcare systems.
The involvement of groups such as Christian Concern in support of desperate parents has been criticized for prolonging the agony of all concerned.
Such groups are often working on their own agendas, according to Dominic Wilkinson, professor of medical ethics at the University of Oxford.
“They may have different political or other views, (and) parents have reason to say things that may not be accurate,” he said on Sky.
After a huge battle between the hospital and his parents, 23-month-old Alfie Evans died in April 2018 when doctors in Liverpool, northwest England, withdrew life support.
His parents had the support of Pope Francis to move him to a clinic in Rome, but lost a final court appeal days before he died.
Charlie Gard, born in August 2016 with a rare form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, died a week after his first birthday after doctors withdrew life support.
Charlie’s parents fought a five-month legal battle to take him to the United States for experimental treatment, drawing support from then-US President Donald Trump and evangelical groups.
Parents are pressing the UK government to adopt “Charlie’s Law”, proposed legislation that would strengthen parents’ rights when disputes arise over their children’s behaviour.
“The whole system is stacked against us,” Archie’s mother Dance said Friday, with many on social media questioning her actions and the family’s fundraising efforts.
“Reform needs to happen now through Charlie’s Law so no parent has to go through this.”
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