British boy in coma, Archie Battersbee, dies after courts rule against parents, allow hospital to end life support systems

People around the world have been watching the case of Archie Battersbee, a 12-year-old British boy who fell into a coma four months ago and has been kept alive on life support at a hospital ever since.

Unfortunately, that case came to a tragic conclusion Saturday after the hospital shut down all of the life support systems and ended Battersbee’s life with the backing of the court system over the objections of his parents, the Associated Press reported.

“I’m the proudest mum in the world,” the boy’s mother, Hollie Dance, told reporters outside the hospital after her son was declared dead. “Such a beautiful little boy and he fought right until the very end.”

Parents vs. hospitals and the courts

It was in April, according to CBS News, that Battersbee was found unconscious in his home and then hospitalized in a coma on life support.

Doctors soon declared the boy to be brain dead and sought to end the life support, but his parents objected and took the fight to court to try and keep their son alive in hopes that he might eventually recover. The hospital countered that there was no real hope for recovery and that it would be in the “best interests” of the boy to allow him to die.

Unfortunately, the courts at all levels sided with the doctors and hospital and rejected the arguments and appeals of the parents, and Britain’s High Court ultimately ruled on Friday to reject a last-minute plea from the parents to move the boy to hospice care and instead gave the hospital he was at the go-ahead to withdraw the life support systems and allow the child to die.

That process played out Saturday morning over the course of a couple of hours, much to the dismay of Battersbee’s family.

Now, the case has reignited a debate over who should have the right to make a final determination on whether to continue or end life support for certain patients — the families or hospitals — as well as whether the adversarial court system is the best place for settling such disputes.

“No parent or family must go through this again”

“We want something good to come out of this tragedy and the horrendous experience we have been put through by the system,” Battersbee’s family said in a statement, according to the BBC. “No parent or family must go through this again.”

“We have been forced to fight a relentless legal battle by the hospital trust while faced with an unimaginable tragedy,” they continued. “We were backed into a corner by the system, stripped of all our rights, and have had to fight for Archie’s real ‘best interests’ and right to live with everything stacked against us.”

“This has now happened too often to parents who do not want their critically-ill children to have life-support removed,” the family added. “There must be an investigation and inquiry through the proper channels on what has happened to Archie, and we will be calling for change.”

The BBC noted that many comparisons have been drawn between the case of Battersbee and that of Charlie Gard in 2017, a British infant with a rare genetic disorder that caused progressive brain damage who was taken off life support by a hospital over the objections of his parents after the High Court had ruled in favor of ending the child’s life.

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