Archie Battersbee set to be taken off life support on Monday despite UN intervention

The Barts Health NHS Trust told his parents that ‘no supplemental oxygen will be given’ after the endotracheal tube of his ventilator is removed

A youngster who is on life support after being found unconscious at home in April is reportedly set to have treatment withdrawn on Monday, August 1, unless the UK government complies with an injunction from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

12-year-old Archie Battersbee is being treated by Barts Health NHS Trust after he was found unconscious at home by his mother on April 7. The trust said in a letter to his parents that “no supplemental oxygen will be given” after the endotracheal tube of the mechanical ventilator is removed. The boy has relied on the machine since his admission to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. “The time it takes for the heart to stop beating is often a matter of minutes, but in some cases, this can take longer,” the letter states. “A doctor will assess Archie regularly to confirm that the heart has stopped beating but with consideration of the family’s need not to have too much intrusion at such a difficult time.”

Archie’s parents Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee will learn on Monday morning how the withdrawal process is to be performed, keeping in mind the preservation of their son’s “dignity.” The letter continued, “You or any of the family may wish to lie on Archie’s bed with him or have him in your arms, if that should be practically possible.” This came after a High Court judge ruled that ending treatment was in Archie’s best interest after reviewing evidence from clinicians. He said the boy’s prognosis was “bleak.”

On the other hand, family members argued that doctors must give Archie a chance to recover and have made an application to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, citing Articles 10 and 12 of the Convention (UNCRPD) which call on nations to ensure the right to life and equal rights for disabled people. Responding to the request, the committee wrote a letter to Dance and her barrister Bruno Quintavalle requesting “the state party [the UK] to refrain from withdrawing life-preserving medical treatment, including medical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration from the alleged victim while the case is under consideration by the committee.”

Speaking to Sky News, one government official said it had received correspondence from the UN which it was carefully reviewing. “We recognize this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersbee’s family and our thoughts are with them,” a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told the outlet. “We have received the letter and will respond in due course.”

Alistair Chesser, the chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said that any “further delay” in “palliative care” to Archie wouldn’t be “appropriate” without a court order. But his parents have argued that stopping treatment would be a direct breach of international human rights law. “My boy’s really not in a good place. The hospital are fully in control of the situation,” Dance told Sky News. “If they do go ahead (to withdraw treatment), knowing that the UN are now involved, I don’t think it will look very good for this country at all.”

The embattled mother, who is anxiously hoping for the UK government to comply with the UN request, said the Trust’s assertions were rather misleading. “We as a family are very disappointed that the Trust’s management has chosen to hide behind euphemisms and to mislead the public,” Dance told the outlet. “It is hard to see any reason for that behavior except knowing that what they are doing is cruel and wrong.”




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