UK court holds last-minute hearing in survival battle
LONDON — A British court is holding an emergency hearing on Monday to determine whether a hospital can end life-saving treatment for a 12-year-old boy who suffered catastrophic brain damage.
Archie Battersbee’s parents are fighting the decision but have lost a series of legal challenges. After the family appealed to the United Nations, the British government asked the Court of Appeal to review the case.
The court is holding a remote hearing on Monday, hours before the Royal London Hospital announces the end of Archie’s treatment.
Archie was found unconscious with a ligature on his head on April 7. His parents think he may have participated in an online challenge gone wrong. Doctors believe Archie died of the brainstem and say pursuing life-saving treatment is not in his best interests.
Several UK courts agreed. Monday’s hearing comes after the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requested that the treatment be continued so that it could review the case.
Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, says doctors and judges shouldn’t have the final say on Archie’s treatment.
“Archie is my child,” she told the BBC. “It shouldn’t be anyone’s decision but ours.”
The case is the latest in the UK which has pitted the judgment of doctors against the wishes of families. In several cases, including this one, the families were supported by a religious pressure group, Christian Concern.
Under UK law, it is common for the courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree over a child’s treatment. In such cases, the rights of the child take precedence over the right of the parents to decide what is best for their offspring.
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said “the plan to withdraw treatment will continue unless the court decides otherwise”.
“Our deepest condolences go out to Archie’s family at this difficult time,” he said.