Archie Battersbee's family in fresh bid to delay withdrawal of life support

·4-min read

The family of Archie Battersbee have submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to postpone the withdrawal of his life support treatment.

The 12-year-old's life support was set to be switched off at 11am today, after his family lost a Supreme Court bid to keep it going.

But Archie's mother, Hollie Dance, said she has been told his treatment will not be withdrawn whilst the application is being considered.

Speaking to reporters outside the hospital, Ms Dance said: "I'm hoping that they (ECHR) step in and give Archie the right to live. I think he deserves that.

"We will not give up on Archie until the end."

Ms Dance said Archie had a "stable night again" and that she has been contacted by doctors in Japan and Turkey who say they have medical interventions that will help Archie recover.

She added that she is now considering options that involve moving him outside of the UK.

The family's application is not seeking for the ECHR to rule whether or not withdrawing treatment is in Archie's best interests, but asks for his rights to be recognised under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The family had been given a 9am deadline to submit an application to the ECHR, which Ms Dance described as "cruel".

Ms Dance said London's Barts Health NHS Trust told her the family cannot move him to a hospice.

Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said: "As directed by the courts, we will work with the family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment, but we will make no changes to Archie's care until the outstanding legal issues are resolved."

The country's top court dismissed the family's application to appeal the Court of Appeal's decision on Monday to remove life support.

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, believe he is brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.

But his family insist the treatment should continue, saying the youngster's heart was still beating, and he had gripped his mother's hand.

Ms Dance and Archie's father, Paul Battersbee, had sought to extend his treatment to allow time for a United Nations committee to consider the child's case.

On Tuesday afternoon, a panel of three Supreme Court judges refused permission for Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee to appeal, as they concluded the Court of Appeal "made the correct decision".

The hospital trust treating Archie said it would work with the family to prepare for life support to end.

The Supreme Court panel said that while they have "great sympathy with the plight of Archie's devoted parents… there is no prospect of any meaningful recovery (by Archie)".

They added that even if life-sustaining treatment is maintained, Archie would die in the next few weeks through organ and heart failure.

The last-minute hearing at the Court of Appeal on Monday came after the government asked it to urgently consider a request from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to keep treating Archie.

However, after considering the matter, three judges refused to postpone the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment beyond midday on Tuesday.

They also refused to grant permission to appeal against their ruling at the Supreme Court.

'It's disgraceful, it's absolutely shameful'

Ms Dance said the hospital was "pushing" to end his life, adding: "It's disgraceful, it's absolutely shameful. Is that the way forward in this country that we are allowed to execute children. Because they have got disabilities?"

She told reporters that she was with her son 24/7, and he was "progressing in so many ways. He's on three medications, he's absorbing feed, he's gained weight".

'Our thoughts are with Archie Battersbee's family'

A government spokesperson said: "Our thoughts are with Archie Battersbee's family at this incredibly difficult time. It is right that decisions about Archie's treatment are taken by expert doctors and the courts."

Archie has been at the centre of a lengthy legal dispute since he was seriously injured in an incident at his home in Southend, Essex, in April.

Ms Dance found her son unconscious with a ligature over his head. She believes he took part in an online challenge.

He has not regained consciousness since and is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.

His parents claim that stopping treatment would be in breach of the UK's obligations under Articles 10 and 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and Article 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Children.

These international obligations say states must take all necessary measures to ensure disabled people enjoy equal rights, and that governments should do all they can to prevent the deaths of children and young people.

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