Archie Battersbee’s life support system is due to be removed on Saturday morning after his family’s legal battle ended to transfer him to a hospice.
His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, made a final unsuccessful appeal to the European Court of Human Rights on Friday night to intervene after their attempt to appeal against a High Court ruling that he must stay at the Royal Hospital in London was rejected by the Court of Appeal.
His family have now been informed that treatment will be discontinued at 10 a.m. on Saturday. A spokesperson for the Christian Legal Center, which supports the family’s legal effort, told the PA news agency: “All legal avenues have been exhausted. The family is devastated and spending precious time with Archie.
The European Court said the complaints “did not fall within the scope” of that rule under which the appeal had been made and would therefore not intervene.
Ms Justice Theis, sitting in the High Court, said she made her decision in the light of evidence from a doctor treating Archie that the risks of moving him were ‘major and unforeseeable’ and that he was becoming more and more fragile.
“I am satisfied that in reconsidering the balancing exercise, his best interests remain…that he should remain in hospital when treatment is discontinued,” Theis said in his judgment.
“The circumstances described by Dr F of the physical arrangements at the hospital and the arrangements that can be made will ensure that Archie’s best interests remain at the center of the final arrangements to allow him to die peacefully and privately in the embrace of the family he loved.
Archie’s parents attempted to appeal in part on the grounds that Theis had not authorized a request for expert testimony from “Dr. R”, a consultant in pediatric respiratory medicine, which they had filed just before the Thursday hearing.
Describing his decision not to grant the expert’s request, Theis said the court had heard testimony from Dr F, “the treating specialist who has extensive knowledge of Archie’s current position”, and that Dr R had not worked in a pediatric intensive care unit. unit since 2008.
She added: “Dr R hardly disputes what Dr F has exposed, other than the assessment of the risks involved in the transfer in which he acknowledges that he has no detailed information on the position or clinical history. of Archie.”
The three judges of the Court of Appeal, led by Sir Andrew McFarlane, said Theis’ reasoning for not instructing Dr. R was valid. “We have come to the clear conclusion that each of her decisions was fair for the reasons she gave. It follows that the proposed appeal has no chance of success and there is no other compelling reason for the Court of Appeal to hear an appeal,” they said.
Archie has been in a coma since April 7 when he suffered a catastrophic brain injury. His mother thinks he choked while participating in a viral social media challenge. On Wednesday, the Strasbourg court refused to intervene in the case, which was his parents’ last hope to prevent the withdrawal of his life support.
At Thursday’s hearing, the court heard from Ms C, Archie’s brother’s fiancée. She said the family believe Archie will not die in peace and dignity if his treatment is interrupted in hospital, in part due to a breakdown in trust. In contrast, she said the hospice would provide a more peaceful setting, have better facilities to accommodate the family, and Archie could stay there longer after his death than in hospital.
But Dr F described a series of risks, including Archie’s blood pressure plummeting, human error dislodging the medicine tubes when he was moved, or equipment failure.
“Archie has what she has described as a tailored care plan to meet her particular needs,” Theis said in her judgment. “Once he leaves the hospital, Archie would be with people who would not be familiar with his particular care needs and would be caring for Archie in very different circumstances, within the confines of a vehicle. and a reduced care team.”
Concluding her judgment, Theis said she recognizes “the enormity of what awaits Archie’s parents and family. Their unconditional love and devotion to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case. I hope now that Archie will have the opportunity to die in peaceful circumstances, with the family that meant so much to him that he clearly does for them.