The family of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee have pledged to “fight” to get him moved to a hospice, insisting they should be allowed to choose where he takes “his last moments”.
Following the rejection by the European Court of Human Rights of their last-ditch bid to postpone the withdrawal of his life support, the family now intends to file an application to the High Court in London to transfer him out of the Royal London Hospital.
The boy’s mother, Hollie Dance, said she felt “absolutely deflated” after the decision on Wednesday evening by the European court not to intervene in the case.
A family spokeswoman told the PA news agency that Barts Health NHS Trust said Archie’s life support will be withdrawn at 11am on Thursday unless a legal application regarding the hospice move is submitted by 9am.
She confirmed the family intend to submit such an application, describing it as “completely barbaric and absolutely disgusting that we’re not even allowed to choose where Archie takes his last moments”.
The child has been in a coma since he was found unconscious in April and is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments, at the hospital in Whitechapel, east London.
The trust has said Archie’s condition is too unstable for a transfer and that moving him by ambulance to a different setting “would most likely hasten the premature deterioration the family wish to avoid, even with full intensive care equipment and staff on the journey”.
A High Court order made in July requires that Archie remains at the Royal London Hospital while his treatment is withdrawn.
The family spokeswoman said a hospice has agreed to take him, adding: “Hospices are well and truly designed for palliative and respite care.
“Archie is now obviously on palliative care so there is no reason whatsoever for him not to take his last moments at a hospice.”
Ms Dance said she wanted her son to have a “dignified passing at a hospice”, adding that is is “unfair” they have to “fight” to get him out of the hospital.
Becoming tearful as she gave her reaction to the European court’s decision, she said: “The one thing I will say is, I promised him I’d fight to the end and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Ms Dance had submitted the application to the European court along with Archie’s father, Paul Battersbee, just hours before Barts Health NHS Trust had been expected to withdraw their son’s life support on Wednesday.
Asked by reporters outside the hospital whether this defeat felt different, she said: “It’s the end. It was the last thing, wasn’t it? And again our country have failed a 12-year-old child.”
She claimed the hospital had also “failed” her son, saying: “I would like him out of here as quick as possible really, and in a peaceful hospice to say goodbye and spend time with his family, uninterrupted by the noise and chaos.”
Barts Health NHS Trust gave no update when asked about life support being withdrawn.
Ms Dance said she “won’t allow” anything to be done before Archie’s father returns to his bedside at the hospital on Thursday.
UK Supreme Court judges have previously said they have “great sympathy” with Archie’s parents but added there is “no prospect of any meaningful recovery”.
Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee have been involved in a series of legal efforts regarding their son’s condition.
The boy was found unconscious at his home by his mother on April 7 and has not regained consciousness since. She believes he was taking part in an online challenge.
Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee were granted a Court of Appeal hearing on Monday after the Government asked judges to urgently consider a request from a UN committee to keep treating Archie while it reviews his case.
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.
They filed an application directly with the Supreme Court, asking for his treatment to continue so the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) could have time to consider their complaint, made last week.
But, refusing permission to appeal, a panel of three justices concluded the Court of Appeal “made the correct decision”.
On Wednesday in its decision, the European court said it would not “interfere with the decisions of the national courts to allow the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from (Archie) to proceed”.
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