Archie Battersbee’s story has moved and shocked Britain in recent weeks.
For 121 agonizing days, his family have been willing him to pull through and show signs that he might one day emerge from the deep coma he fell into on April 7.
But try as they might, doctors and scientists couldn’t find even a sliver of hope that the 12-year-old would ever wake up.
The team treating him said it was in his best interests to switch off the array of machines keeping his heart beating.
His family sought to prevent that, beginning a court tussle which would wrestle with the gravest questions imaginable about life, death and the rights of parents over the experts tasked with caring for us.
Archie’s heartbroken family announced he died on Saturday afternoon, the culmination of a horrifying few months for them.
This is how that journey played out.
Archie was found unconscious by his mother, Hollie Dance, at her home in Southend, Essex. He has a ligature around his neck. She believes he was taking part in a TikTok challenge.
Barts Health NHS Trust, responsible for Archie’s care at the Royal London Hospital, asks the High Court for permission to test his brain stem, which is responsible for keeping people alive, and to withdraw mechanical ventilation.
Doctors think it ‘highly likely’ that the youngster is effectively dead, and say it is in his best interests that life-support treatment should stop.
High Court Judge Mrs. Justice Arbuthnot rules that a brain stem test would be in Archie’s best interests.
Two specialists attempted a nerve stimulation test on Archie, but no response was detected.
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, sitting in the Family Division of the High Court, oversees a three-day hearing, during which doctors say it is ‘very likely’ he is ‘brain-stem dead’ but lawyers representing Archie’s family argue his heart is still beating and want care to continue.
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that Archie is dead and gives the go ahead for doctors to lawfully stop treating him. Archie’s family says they plan to appeal.
Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, are granted permission to appeal against the decision.
Three appeal judges rule that the case should be looked at again by a different High Court judge. Archie’s parents say they are ‘delighted’ at the decision.
High Court judge Mr. Justice Hayden hears evidence from doctors that continuing to treat Archie will only ‘delay the inevitable’. Archie’s mum says her son is a ‘natural-born fighter’ and urges doctors to continue care.
Mr Justice Hayden rules in favor of the hospital trust, saying the medical evidence is ‘compelling and unanimous’ and paints a ‘bleak’ picture, adding: ‘There can be no hope at all of recovery.’
Archie’s parents say they will ask Court of Appeal judges to overturn the ruling.
Three of the UK’s most senior judges are told during a two-day hearing that medical evidence shows Archie is in a ‘comatose state’.
The three Court of Appeal judges rule that doctors can lawfully stop providing life-support treatment to Archie. Again, the family announced plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Archie’s family failed to persuade the Supreme Court to intervene in the case.
With legal options running out, the family made a ‘last-ditch’ application to a UN committee to step in.
The hospital caring for Archie was due to be withdrawn on August 1 at 2pm but it was delayed when a new court hearing was scheduled with hours to go. It came to have the government asked the Court of Appeal to ‘urgently consider’ a request while the UN committee assessed the case.
The Court of Appeal rejects a request to postpone stopping Archie’s treatment. It says his life-support care will end at noon the following day.
Archie’s parents are denied permission to appeal against the latest ruling at the Supreme Court. Ms Dance says Barts Health NHS Trust will begin to withdraw Archie’s life support on August 3 at 11am unless the family has submitted an application to the ECHR by 9am that day.
The ECHR refuses the last-ditch application. Archie’s family refocus their legal efforts to have him moved to a hospice and appeal to the High Court.
A hearing lasts late into the evening where the hospital rules that it would not be in Archie’s best interests to move him out of the hospital in his fragile state.
Mrs Justice Theis decides the boy should not be moved to a hospice. The High Court judge refuses the family permission to appeal against her ruling, granting a stay on the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment until 2pm on Friday to allow them to go directly to the Court of Appeal.
Archie died at 12.15pm after medical treatment was withdrawn at 10am.
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