LONDON -- The family of a comatose boy who have fought to prevent doctors from ending his life-support treatment have filed a legal action requesting permission to move their son from a London hospital to a hospice.
Archie Battersbee’s parents announced the move after the European Court of Human Rights late Wednesday rejected a request to intervene in the case following a series of rulings by U.K. courts that backed doctors who said further treatment was not in the 12-year-old’s best interests because he is brain dead.
The family is now seeking permission to move Archie from the Royal London Hospital in east London to a hospice. They say the hospital informed them that life support would be withdrawn at 11 a.m. Thursday unless a legal challenge over the hospice move was submitted by 9 a.m.
“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,” his mother, Hollie Dance, told the BBC.
The dispute is the latest U.K. case pitting the judgment of doctors against the wishes of families. It is common for British courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child. In such cases, the best interests of the child take primacy over the parents’ right to decide what they believe is best for their offspring.
Archie was found unconscious at home with a ligature over his head on April 7. His parents believe he may have been taking part in an online challenge that went wrong.
Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the Royal London Hospital, said it understands the motivation behind the family’s request but a previous High Court ruling requires that Archie remain in the hospital while his treatment is ended. The boy’s condition is so unstable that moving him would hasten the deterioration of his condition, the trust said.
“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,” Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer of the trust, said in a statement.
Archie’s parents took their campaign to prolong his treatment all the way to the U.K. Supreme Court. After exhausting their legal options in Britain, they asked the European Court of Human Rights to intervene.
The ECHR late Wednesday said it would not “interfere with the decisions of the national courts to allow the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from (Archie) to proceed.”