Mother of Archie Battersbee: I will fight until the bitter end

The 12-year-old was found unconscious at his home by his mother on April 7 and has not regained consciousness since.

03 August 2022

The mother of Archie Battersbee has vowed to fight for her son “til the bitter end” as the family wait to hear from the European Court of Human Rights after making a last-ditch bid to postpone the withdrawal of his life support.

The 12-year-old 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 Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, submitted the application to the Strasbourg-based court just a couple of hours before Barts Health NHS Trust was expected to withdraw Archie’s life support.

Archie Battersbee court case
The mother of Archie Battersbee, Hollie Dance (right), speaks to the media outside the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Ms Dance said they are waiting for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to get back to them.

Speaking outside the hospital, she said: “I am hoping that they will step in and give Archie a right to live. I think that he deserves that.”

She said two countries have come forward to offer her son treatment, adding: “If this country can’t treat him or they’re not willing to treat him, where is the harm in allowing him to go to another country?”

She said the offers of help have come from Tokyo, in Japan, and Italy.

Ms Dance said she is “running on empty”, adding: “Yesterday was a very down day for me. People that know me know I won’t stay down for long, especially when it comes to fighting for my son’s life.

“I promised Arch, same with his dad, that we will fight ’til the bitter end, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

“We’re going to fight for the right for my son to live.”

Ms Dance told reporters: “It really is a case of me and Archie, and obviously Archie’s family, up against the whole system.”

Asked about what other countries are offering, she said they are “really supportive”, they can offer treatment to Archie, and they have “high success rates”.

Ms Dance added: “There’s other countries that want to treat him and I think that he should be allowed to go.”

She also said a request has been made for Archie to go to a hospice in a “worst-case scenario” but said the hospital has “brutally” said no.

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie Battersbee with his mother Hollie Dance (left), brother Tom Summers and sister Lauren Summers (Family handout/PA)

“The courts are going on and really focusing in on the word dignity. What is dignified in dying in a busy hospital room full of noise with the door open, people coming in and out continuously, when Archie could be in a very peaceful garden with squirrels and wildlife running around to have his life support withdrawn there,” she said.

Dance said she is broken, telling reporters: “I’m not going to lie, I am broke, and at some point I am going to need serious therapy, but I haven’t got time to think about me at the minute.

“This is a serious fight for my son’s life and I’m up against the biggest system and a trust that I haven’t got time to break down at the moment.”

On Tuesday evening, Ms Dance said the trust would begin to withdraw the life support at 11am on Wednesday unless the family submitted the application to the ECHR by 9am.

On Wednesday morning, Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “Our deepest sympathies remain with Archie’s family and we aim to provide the best possible support to everyone at this difficult time.

“As directed by the courts, we will work with the family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment, but we will make no changes to Archie’s care until the outstanding legal issues are resolved.”

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie’s parents Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance (Jonathan Brady/PA)

In a statement, the ECHR said it has received an application for interim measures and that it is being processed.

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.

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie Battersbee was found unconscious in April (Family handout/PA)

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee 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”.

Supreme Court judges said they have “great sympathy” with Archie’s parents but added there is “no prospect of any meaningful recovery”.

Archie 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.

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