A 12-year-old boy left in a coma after suffering brain damage is set to have his life support treatment ended on Monday, despite his mother’s pleas to the government.
Barts Health NHS Trust, which cares for Archie Battersbee, said in a letter to his parents that “all fluid infusions, medications, including vasopressin will be stopped” at 2pm on August 1.
It comes after Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, urged the health secretary to “act immediately” to stop the treatment, saying it would be “a flagrant breach” of his rights.
The letter, sent over the weekend and shown to the PA news agency, read: “We understand that any discussions surrounding the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment are very difficult and painful.
“But we want to make sure you and your family are involved as much as you want to be.”
Dance and Paul Battersbee, the youngster’s parents, will be told on Monday morning how the withdrawal process will be carried out, with the aim of “preserving Archie’s dignity”, the letter said.
It continued: “You or someone in the family may wish to lie on Archie’s bed with him or hold him in your arms, should that be practical.”
A High Court judge had ruled that ending the treatment is in Archie’s best interests, after reviewing evidence.
Dance and Mr Battersbee, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, failed to persuade Court of Appeal judges to overturn the ruling and High Court judges have refused to intervene.
Archie’s parents are supported by the campaigning organization Christian Legal Centre.
Writing to Health Secretary Stephen Barclay on Saturday, Dance said: “If this happens, it will be extraordinary cruelty and a clear breach of Archie’s rights as a disabled person.
“Archie has the right to have the decisions about his life and death, made by the NHS and UK courts, scrutinized by an international human rights body. To hasten his death to prevent that would be completely unacceptable.
“I trust that you will now act immediately, as a member of the government responsible for the NHS, to ensure that this does not happen and our country respects its obligations under the international human rights treaties that we have signed and ratified.”
They have also asked the UN to intervene in a “last ditch” application.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has written to Archie’s parents and legal team, saying it had “requested the State party [the UK] to refrain from withdrawing life-sustaining medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration, from the alleged victim while the case is pending before the committee”.
It added: “This request does not imply that any decision has been made on the substance of the matter under consideration.”
The family said stopping the treatment would be in breach of the UK’s obligations under international human rights law.
Archie’s parents have asked hospital bosses to continue treatment until the UN has assessed the case.
Magistrates in London have heard that Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.
She thinks he may have taken part in an online challenge.
The young boy has not regained consciousness.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, believe he is brain-stem dead and say continued life support is not in his best interests.
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said on Friday that “further delays” in starting to provide “palliative care” to Archie would “not be appropriate” without a court order.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We realize this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersbee’s family and our thoughts are with them.
– We have received the letter and will respond in due course.