LONDON (AP) — A British court on Monday refused to stop a hospital from ending life-saving treatment for a 12-year-old boy who suffered catastrophic brain damage.
Archie Battersbee’s parents have fought unsuccessfully in court to stop the Royal London Hospital from switching off the boy’s ventilator and stopping other interventions that are keeping him alive. It was due to happen on Monday, but after the family appealed to the United Nations, the British government asked the Court of Appeal to review the case.
After an emergency hearing, the court said it would not extend the suspension of the withdrawal of life support beyond noon on Tuesday.
“Every day that (Archie) continues to receive life-sustaining treatment is against his best interests and therefore even a short stay is against his best interests,” Judge Andrew McFarlane said. .
The judge said the medical evidence showed that “Archie’s system, his organs and ultimately his heart are shutting down. The options in court have always been difficult.
Archie’s parents can still ask the UK Supreme Court if they will hear the case. If he agrees, the deadline would likely be extended again.
Archie was found unconscious at home with a ligature on his head on April 7. His parents think he may have participated in an online challenge gone wrong. Doctors believe Archie is brain dead and say continuing life-sustaining treatment is not in his best interests.
Several UK courts agreed. Monday’s hearing came after the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities called for the treatment to continue so that it could look into the case.
Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, says doctors and judges shouldn’t have the final say on Archie’s treatment.
“Archie is my child,” she told the BBC. “It shouldn’t be anyone’s decision but ours.”
The case is the latest in the UK which has pitted the judgment of doctors against the wishes of families. In several cases, including this one, the families were supported by a religious pressure group, Christian Concern.
Under UK law, it is common for the courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree over a child’s treatment. In such cases, the rights of the child take precedence over the right of the parents to decide what is best for their offspring.
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said “the plan to withdraw treatment will continue unless the court decides otherwise”.
“Our deepest condolences go out to Archie’s family at this difficult time,” he said.