A London hospital on Saturday turned off life support for 12-year-old British boy Archie Battersby after his parents lost a long, emotional and divisive legal battle.
Archie’s mother, Holly Dance, said her son passed away just over two hours after the ventilator was stopped.
“Such a handsome boy. He fought to the very end,” she said. told reporterssobbing outside the Royal London Hospital.
“I’m the proudest mom in the world,” Dance said after spending the night at his bedside with other relatives.
Dance found Archie unconscious at home in April with signs of him putting a rope around his neck, possibly after participating in an online suffocation issue.
At the entrance to the hospital in east London, well-wishers left flowers and cards, and lit candles in the shape of the letter “A”.
“My boy is 12 years old, the same age as Archie and it just puts things in perspective,” said Shelly Elias, 43, leaving her own suggestions on the site earlier on Saturday.
“I didn’t know what to write because there are no words that could take away the pain,” she said.
In June, a judge agreed with doctors that Archie had a “brain stem dead” that allowed life support to be terminated, but the family fought through the courts to overturn that decision.
Claiming that Archie could help with treatment in Italy or Japan, they took the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, which declined to intervene this week.
The parents also lost a last-ditch legal effort to get Archie into hospice for his final hours.
“All legal avenues have been exhausted,” a spokesman for the Christian Concern campaign group that supported the family said Friday night.
“Family is devastated and spending precious time with Archie.”
This case is the latest in a series in which the parents have clashed with the British legal and health system.
The involvement of groups such as Christian Anxiety in support of desperate parents has drawn criticism for prolonging the pain of all concerned.
According to Dominic Wilkinson, professor of medical ethics at the University of Oxford, such groups often work according to their own plans.
“They may have different political or other views, (and) there are reasons to want to tell parents things that may not be accurate,” he told Sky.
After a bitter battle between the hospital and his parents, 23-month-old Alfie Evans died in April 2018 when doctors in Liverpool, northwest England, turned off life support.
His parents, supported by Pope Francis, took him to a clinic in Rome, but lost their final appeal in court a few days before his death.
Charlie Guard, who was born in August 2016 with a rare form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, died a week before his first birthday after doctors took his life support off.
His parents fought a five-month legal battle to have Charlie brought to the United States for experimental treatment, with the support of then US President Donald Trump and evangelical groups.
The parents have pushed for the UK government to pass “Charlie’s Law”, a proposed law that would strengthen the rights of parents in the event of disputes over the treatment of their children.
“The whole system is against us,” Dance, Archie’s mother, said on Friday, with many on social media also questioning her actions and the family’s fundraising.
“Reform now has to go through Charlie’s law so that no parent has to go through this.”