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Life support for British boy stopped after long legal struggle

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Issue Date: 2022-06-08 – 12:18

LONDON (AFP) On Saturday, a London hospital was due to halt the life-sustaining of 12-year-old British boy Archie Battersby after his parents lost a long and touching legal battle.

Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, found her son unconscious with traces of a strap around his neck after participating in an online suffocation challenge at home in April.

“It was really hard.” Before her family spent the night at Archie’s bedside at the Royal Hospital in London, Dance told Sky News late Friday in tears.

“So far, when I stand in front of the camera, despite my hard and strong face and looks, I’m pretty spoiled,” she said.

The life support device was due to be withdrawn at 10 am (0900 GMT), but an hour later there was no news from the hospital.

At the entrance to a hospital in eastern London, wish-makers placed flowers and cards and lit candles in the shape of the letter ‘A’.

“My son is 12 the same age as Archie,” said 43-year-old Shelley Elias, after leaving her donations at an impromptu all-night rally.

“I didn’t know what to write because I didn’t have any words to relieve the pain,” she said.

Last June, a judge agreed with doctors that Archie could end his life with “brainstem death”, but the family fought through the courts to overturn it.

They filed a lawsuit this week up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where Archie refused to intervene, arguing that seeking treatment in Italy or Japan could help.

The parents also lost their final legal bid to have Archie move to hospice for the last hour.

“All legal channels have been exhausted,” a spokesperson for Christian Concern, a campaign group that has supported families, said late Friday.

“Families are devastated and are spending precious time with Archie.”

‘Charlie’s Law’

This case is the latest in a series of fighting parents over the UK’s legal and health system.

The involvement of groups such as Christian Concern, which supports desperate parents, has been criticized for prolonging the suffering of all involved.

After a fierce battle between the hospital and her parents, 23-month-old Alfie Evans died in April 2018 when doctors in Liverpool, northwest England, withdrew her life support.

His parents, with the support of Pope Francis, took him to a clinic in Rome, but lost a final appeal a few days before his death.

Born in August 2016 of a rare form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, Charlie Gard died a week before her first birthday after doctors stopped her life.

His parents fought a legal battle for five months to get Charlie to America for treatment.

Since then, they have been putting pressure on the British government to adopt “Charlie’s Law”. The bill proposed legislation that would strengthen parents’ rights when disputes arise over the care of their children.

“The whole system is stacked against us,” Archie’s mother Dance said.

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