The mother of Archie Battersbee has issued a heart-breaking warning to parents as her son’s life support treatment is set to come to an end.
The words of warning from Hollie Dance came as a high court judge yesterday (1 August) ruled that Archie’s life-support should be turned off, after his family lost a last-minute bid to keep the youngster alive.
Archie, from Essex, had been granted a short stay, or delay, by the Court of Appeal until 12pm today (2 August), after which his ventilation can be switched off by staff at the Royal London Hospital.
It is believed that the 12-year-old suffered a catastrophic brain injury on 7 April after taking part in a dangerous viral challenge which had been circulating on the social media platform, TikTok.
Archie’s parents Hollie Dance, 46, and Paul Battersbee, 57, from Southend-on-Sea in Essex have been embroiled in legal battle against Barts NHS Trust since May, pleading that their son be given more time on life support, and allowed to die as ‘natural’ a death as possible.
Following yesterday’s verdict, Ms Dance said the family would challenge the ruling, pointing out that Archie was still alive.
“We made a promise to Archie, we will fight to the end,” she said. “And Archie’s still fighting”.
“If [Tuesday’s] the last day, then so be it. But we will be applying to the Supreme Court,” she added.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain earlier today, Ms Dance said it is “very, very hard” to stop fighting for the life of her son, adding that he was giving the family various indications to “keep fighting”.
She told Good Morning Britain’s Richard Madeley and Kate Garraway about her experience of fighting for the life of her son, stating: “If Archie was in pain and deteriorating, in the way it’s been put over to the courts, I’d be feeling very different but it’s not the case and, based on that, I find it hard not to exhaust every option…
“Whilst he is progressing, it’s very, very hard to stop fighting for his life. Every day he’s giving us different indications to keep fighting.”
'I know Archie is still with us.'
12-year-old Archie Battersbee's mother Hollie Dance has vowed to fight the latest ruling to turn his life support off and she hopes to appeal to the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/YBIToBnbZQ
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) August 2, 2022
It is believed that Archie choked while participating in the popular online challenge, sustaining devastating brain damage. Appealing to parents on Monday to stop their children from undertaking such dangerous viral challenges, Ms Dance said: “Please, please, parents, have the conversation with your children because I know there’s a whole new lot of online challenges”.
“I don’t want any parent out there to have what we’ve been going through and I definitely don’t want to see any more children losing their lives”, she said.
The latest hearing was granted after a rapporteur for the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) submitted a request in response to an application by Archie’s parents that their son continue to receive life support treatment while it considered his case. The UK Government then submitted an urgent letter on Sunday on behalf of Health Secretary Steve Barclay, requesting the court to consider the committee’s request.
However, delivering the court’s judgement, Sir Andrew McFarlane, one of three sitting judges, said that the continuation of life-support treatment was “against” the sport-loving 12-year-old’s best interests.
“Every day that [Archie] continues to be given life-sustaining treatment is against his best interests… I concluded that there should be no stay other than a short stay for the parents to take stock and consider whether they want to make any further application to the supreme court,” he stated.
Ms Dance said the family were ‘traumatised’ by what she termed “the brutality” of the UK courts and the hospital Trust, adding that she could not understand the hospital’s “rush” to end her son’s life support.
“We continue to be shocked and traumatised by the brutality of the UK courts and the hospital Trust. Our wishes as parents continue to be trampled on and ignored. We do not understand the urgency and rush to end life-support. The hospital Trust has at no point given us time to come to terms with what has happened. This is no way for a compassionate society to treat a family in our situation. We will continue to fight for Archie.”
Archie’s treatment was initially intended to be withdrawn by the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel in East London at 2pm on Monday, 1 August, following a prior judgement by the high court and the court of appeal – but the deadline was extended while the latest appeal was heard.
Today it emerged that the British Supreme Court has received a fresh appeal from Archie’s family. Archie’s parents want Britain’s highest court to block yesterday’s ruling that the Royal London Hospital can turn off Archie’s ventilator and stop other interventions which are preserving his life.
The Supreme Court said this afternoon that it is considering whether it will hear the full appeal, stating that it is “aware of the urgency of this matter.” While treatment was expected to end at 12pm today, the hospital is expected to await the decision of the Supreme Court.
Christian Concern, which has been supporting the family from the start of their legal battle, today urged people to continue praying for Archie.
“Archie’s family now await the response and the hospital has said they will not begin withdrawing any treatment until they have direction from the Supreme Court. Please continue praying for Archie, his family and the Christian Legal Centre during this time,” the organisation said.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “What Archie’s case has shown is that systematic reform is needed to protect the vulnerable and their families in end-of-life matters. Legislation must be passed reforming the system. Archie’s case stands in the gap. The precedent his case sets can go an incredibly long way to fixing a system which has no room for error.
“We will stand with them as they appeal to the Supreme Court,” she added.