Archie Battersbee: How 121 days of agony played out for the boy’s family

Archie Battersbee

The 12-year-old’s short life met a heartbreaking and high-profile end far too soon (Image: PA)

Archie Battersbee’s story has moved and shocked Britain in recent weeks.

For 121 agonizing days, his family has been willing him to pull through and show signs that he may one day awaken from the deep coma he fell into on April 7th.

But try as they might, doctors and scientists couldn’t find even a shred of hope that the 12-year-old would ever wake up.

The team that treated him said it was in his best interest to turn off the array of devices that were keeping his heart beating.

His family tried to prevent this and started a legal battle that would wrestle with the most difficult questions about life, death and the rights of parents over the experts in charge of care.

Archie’s heartbroken family announced he died on Saturday afternoon, the culmination of a horrible few months for them.

This is how this trip unfolded.

7th of April

Archie is found unconscious at her home in Southend, Essex by his mother, Hollie Dance. He has a ligature around his neck. She thinks he took part in a TikTok challenge.

26th of April

Barts Health NHS Trust, responsible for Archie’s care at the Royal London Hospital, is asking the High Court for permission to test his brainstem, which is responsible for keeping people alive, and halt mechanical ventilation.

Doctors think it’s “very likely” that the boy is in fact dead and say it’s in his best interests to have his life support removed.

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May 13th

High Court Judge Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that a brainstem test would be in Archie’s best interest.

May 16th

Two specialists try a nerve stimulation test on Archie, but no response is detected.

6th-8th June

Ms Justice Arbuthnot, who sits in the High Court’s Family Division, is overseeing a three-day hearing at which doctors say it’s “very likely” he is “brain dead”, but solicitors representing Archie’s family argue that his is heart is still beating and want the care to continue.

June 13th

Mrs. Justice Arbuthnot decides that Archie is dead and gives the green light to doctors to lawfully stop treating him. Archie’s family plans to appeal.

20th June

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee are granted leave to appeal the decision.

Undated family photo of Hollie Dance with her son Archie Battersbee in hospital. The 12-year-old's family were told his life support was to be taken off Saturday morning after their legal battle over his transfer from hospital to a hospice was over. A final request for the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in the case was denied late Friday after the Supreme Court ruled he must remain at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London. Issue date: Saturday August 6, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story COURTS Archie. Photo credit should read: Family Handout/PA Wire

Mum Hollie Dance kisses her son as he lies in his hospital bed (Image: PA)

June 29th

Three appeal judges rule that the case should be re-examined by another High Court judge. Archie’s parents say they are “delighted” with the decision.

July 11th

High Court Judge Mr Justice Hayden is hearing evidence from doctors that continuing treatment for Archie will only “delay the inevitable”. Archie’s mum says her son is a ‘natural born fighter’ and urges doctors to keep looking after him.

15th of July

Mr Justice Hayden rules in favor of the Hospital Trust, saying the medical evidence is “strong and unanimous” and paints a “gloomy” picture, adding: “There can be no hope of recovery at all.”

Archie’s parents say they will ask the appeals court judges to overturn the verdict.

21-22 July

Three of the UK’s most senior judges are told during a two-day hearing that medical evidence shows Archie is in a “comatose state”.

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July 25th

The three appeals court judges rule that doctors can lawfully stop Archie’s life support. The family again announced that they would appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

July 28th

Archie’s family fails to persuade the Supreme Court to intervene in the case.

29th of July

With legal options dwindling, the family makes a “last-ditch” request for a UN committee to intervene.

July 31st

The hospital caring for Archie was due to be withdrawn at 2pm on August 1 but was delayed with hours still left before a new court hearing was scheduled. It came about that the government asked the Court of Appeal to “urgently consider” an application while the UN committee was examining the case.


His family wanted treatment to continue but doctors agreed there was no chance he would come out of the coma (Image: PA)

August 1st

Court of Appeal denies motion to postpone ending Archie’s treatment It says his life support will end at noon the next day.

August 2nd

Archie’s parents are denied permission to appeal recent Supreme Court ruling. According to Ms Dance, Barts Health NHS Trust will begin removing Archie’s life support at 11am on August 3 unless the family files an application with the ECtHR by 9am that day.

3rd August

The ECtHR rejected the application in the last need. Archie’s family are refocusing their legal efforts to place him in hospice and appeal to the High Court.

4th of August

A hearing lasts late into the evening, where the hospital decides it would not be in Archie’s interest to remove him from the hospital in his fragile condition.

5th of August

Mrs Justice Theis decides the boy should not be placed in a hospice. The High Court judge has refused the family permission to appeal their decision and has granted a stay of withdrawal from Archie’s treatment until 2pm on Friday so that they can proceed directly to the Court of Appeal.

6th of August

Archie died at 12.15pm after medical treatment was stopped at 10am.

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Justin Scacco

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