‘Mother’s instinct tells me he’s still in there’: Archie Battersbee’s family distraught as life support to end

·3-min read

Archie Battersbee’s mother has said she did “everything she could” to keep her 12-year-old son alive as his distraught family prepare for his life support to be switched off.

The schoolboy’s family were left “devastated” after a last-ditch effort to have him moved to a hospice to die was rejected by the European Court of Human Rights late on Friday.

They are now spending precious time with Archie before doctors at Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, withdraw treatment at 10am on Saturday.

Hollie Dance, 46, said her mother’s instinct was what drove her to fight a long-running legal battle over the withdrawal of treatment, which also included bids to the High Court and Court of Appeal.

“As his mother, I have had to explore every option,” she said.

“If my gut was telling me there was no chance for my son it might have been different, but I’ve educated myself, and strongest of all is a mother’s instinct that my son is in there,” she told the Daily Mail.

The 12-year-old has been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother at their home in Southend, Essex, in April and is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.

Ms Dance believes he was taking part in an online challenge that left him catastrophically ill.

Hollie Dance said she did ‘everything she could’ to keep her 12-year-old son alive (Family handout/PA)
Hollie Dance said she did ‘everything she could’ to keep her 12-year-old son alive (Family handout/PA)

Doctors treating the schoolboy for the past four months declared Archie to be “brain-stem dead”, but his family kept his life support going in the hope he might recover.

The family’s battle to prolong Archie’s life support ended on Wednesday, when the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene to halt the withdrawal of his treatment.

Their focus then shifted to trying to get the youngster moved to a hospice, but Ms Justice Theis at the High Court concluded on Friday that it was not in his best interests.

Archie’s mother believes he was taking part in an online challenge that left him catastrophically ill (Family handout/PA)
Archie’s mother believes he was taking part in an online challenge that left him catastrophically ill (Family handout/PA)

Her decision followed a High Court order last month requiring that he remain in hospital while his treatment is withdrawn.

Doctors said Archie was in such a grave condition that moving him to a hospice carried a “significant risk” he could die during the journey, the High Court was told.

Ms Dance had said she wanted her son to “spend his last moments” together with his family privately.

“I know I did everything I could. Everything,” she said. “I know I’ve done a very good job being Archie’s mum.

“Based on my own childhood I was determined to be as good as a mother as I can possibly be and I feel like I have done that to the very best of my ability. It’s one of the reasons I am here.”

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

In an interview with Sky News, recorded on Friday, Ms Dance said she was “pretty broken” and that the day had been “absolutely awful”.

She said: “The last however many weeks since 7 April, I don’t think there’s been a day that hasn’t been awful really.

“It’s been really hard. Despite the hard strong face and appearance obviously in front of the cameras up until now, I’ve been pretty broken.”

She said the hospital had made it clear there were no more options and that life support would be withdrawn at 10am on Saturday.

Asked if there was anything more she can do, Ms Dance said: “No. I’ve done everything that I promised my little boy I’d do.”

A spokesman for campaign group Christian Concern, which is supporting Archie’s family, added: “All legal routes have been exhausted.

“The family are devastated and are spending precious time with Archie.”