Amid a dramatic legal battle, a family in the UK faces the possible termination of their son’s life support at the Royal London Hospital. The parents of 12-year-old Archie were given a 9am deadline on Wednesday to file a request to have their son transferred to a hospice, or risk his treatment being stopped at 11am. The family is seeking to provide their son with a “dignified” death by transferring him to a hospice rather than having him die in a hospital. Despite being in a coma since April, the family has fought multiple legal challenges to ensure their son remains on life-sustaining treatment.
In a statement to the press, the boy’s mother expressed hope that the High Court will “do the right thing.” “If they refuse permission for us to take him to a hospice and for him to receive palliative oxygen it will simply be inhumane and nothing about Archie’s ‘dignity’,” she said.
Doctors treating Archie maintain that he is brain-stem dead and that continuing life support is not in his best interest. However, the family argues that their son’s heart is still beating, and they have urged that his life support should not be withdrawn.
The situation has been complicated by a number of legal challenges. The European Court of Human Rights recently declined to interfere with the decisions of UK courts, and the family’s latest High Court request came after Barts Health NHS Trust insisted that his treatment would be withdrawn unless they applied to move him to a hospice.
Despite the legal wrangling, a hospice has agreed to take Archie in, and the family believes there is “no reason whatsoever for him not to take his last moments at a hospice.” However, the Barts Health NHS Trust argues that Archie’s condition is too unstable for a transfer and that moving him could hasten his deterioration. The family’s application will continue to be considered, and Archie’s treatment will remain in place for now.