In April, Hollie Dance arrived back to her Essex home, to find her 12-year-old son Archie unconscious, a ligature over his head.
She says her understanding was that the boy was taking part in an online challenge. Unfortunately, she’ll never be able to ask him about what really happened. Her son never regained consciousness.
In fact, his doctors decided that the boy, a keen gymnast who also loved mixed martial arts, suffered a catastrophic brain injury and has no chance of recovery.
His family disagreed and took Archie’s case to the highest court. A last-ditch appeal to intervene was rejected late on Friday and sadly the boy passed away earlier today.
Doctors said Archie was brain stem dead but his parents wanted life support to continue. But it’s stirred the controversial debate about who has the right to take these extremely tough decisions and how we distinguish death from life.
Of course, even when patients can decide for themselves, problems are raised when it comes to the right to die. However, they have agency to make a decision based on accepting or denying a treatment.
In the case of children, it’s complicated by the fact that parents are deeply involved, but the rights of parents are not absolute.
In the case of Archie Battersbee, the doctors’ decision clashed with the boy’s parents’ choice. They wanted to give their son more time.
But after a fraught few weeks, the court decided that it wouldn’t be in Archie’s best’s interests. The court said that life-sustaining treatment represents a harm of some sort to Archie because it is very invasive. They described him as catastrophically damaged and decided that it is in his best interests to withdraw the ventilation.
Speaking outside the Royal London hospital, Hollie Dance said he had “fought right until the very end” and she was the “proudest mum in the world”.
Speaking through tears, she said: “In sadness, Archie passed at 12.15pm today. I would just like to say I am the proudest mum in the world.
“He was such a beautiful little boy. He fought right until the very end and I am so proud to be his mum.”