Rachel Fieldhouse

Legal

“We will continue to fight”: Parents fight for their son’s life

“We will continue to fight”: Parents fight for their son’s life

A UK boy will be taken off life support at 12pm on Tuesday (5pm AEST), after his parents unsuccessfully fought the decision at a last-minute court hearing.

Judges were asked by the government to consider a request from a UN committee to continue treating the boy, who has been in a comatose state for three months, after the family appealed to the United Nations for help in their case.

However, the Court of Appeal refused to postpone withdrawing his life support shouldn’t be postponed beyond Tuesday.

Archie Battersbee, 12, was found unconscious at his Essex home on April 7, and has been comatose since.

His mother, Hollie Dance, believed he was taking part in an online challenge at the time.

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital believe he is brain-dead and argue it is in his best interest to end life support.

On July 18, Appeal Court judges ruled the doctor could lawfully disconnect Archie’s ventilator, with appeal judge Justice Anthony Hayden describing Archie’s circumstances as a “tragedy of immeasurable dimensions”, but saying that medical evidence was “compelling and unanimous”.

Image: Hollie Dance

Meanwhile, Dance and Paul Battersbee, Archie’s father, have been fighting through the courts to keep their son alive.

They had been told by health officials that their son would no longer receive treatment after 2pm on Monday (11pm AEST).

A previous High Court ruling heard that Archie’s “every bodily function is now maintained by artificial means”.

However, Dance has claimed she has seen indications of Archie attempting to breathe independently twice in the last few days.

After the family wrote to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the committee requested Archie’s case to be reconsidered.

“We write on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care,” the letter to the High Court stated.

“We understand that A’s life support is due to be switched off at 2pm on Monday 1 August, 2022.

“In the circumstances, (given the application to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) we wish to draw the Committee’s request for the interim measures to the Court’s attention for its urgent consideration.

“We request that this letter is placed before the out-of-hours judge immediately and/or if possible, before Mr Justice Hayden.”

The request prompted an emergency hearing on Monday, where the President of the court’s family division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, said the UN convention that made the request was “not part of the law of the United Kingdom”, per the BBC.

“Every day he continues to be given life-sustaining treatment is contrary to his best interests, so a stay, even for a short time, is against his best interests,” the judge said.

The judges also refused to grant permission to appeal their ruling in the Supreme Court.

But, Dance and Battersbee might now ask Supreme Court justices to consider their application for permission to appeal directly.

In a statement, Dance said she was “shocked and traumatised” by what she feels is “the brutality of the UK courts and the hospital trust”.

"Our wishes as parents continue to be trampled on and ignored," she said. "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."

Outside court, Dance urged other parents to make sure their children weren’t taking part in dangerous online trends.

“Please, please, parents, have the conversation with your children because I know there’s a whole new lot of online challenges,” she said.

“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.”

Image: Hollie Dance

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