Aug. 6 (UPI) — British 12-year-old Archie Battersbee died Saturday, 2 hours after doctors at Royal London hospital halted his life-support treatment under court orders.
Archie, who loved gymnastics and mixed martial arts, had been in a coma for four months, kept alive by life support, since he suffered an irreversible brain injury on April 7.
After losing a dramatic legal battle to keep him on a respirator, his family said he passed away at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.
“His stats remained completely stable for 2 hours until they completely removed ventilation and he went completely blue,” relative Ella Carter told The Guardian. “There is absolutely nothing dignified about watching a family member or a child suffocate. No family should ever have to go through what we have been through — it is barbaric.”
His mother, Hollie Dance, said she found her son unconscious, with a ligature over his head, in what she believes was a result of participating in a dangerous “blackout” challenge spreading on social media.
The viral challenge, in which participants are encouraged to cut off oxygen until they pass out for clickbait, has killed at least seven children under age 12 in the United States and Europe.
“He was such a beautiful little boy,” Dance told The Guardian, speaking through tears outside Royal London hospital. “He fought right until the very end and I am so proud to be his mum.”
Archie’s family attempted every legal avenue, filing appeals in the last few days seeking to have him transferred to hospice care to Britain’s High Court and Court of Appeals, as well as the European Court of Human Rights.
Last month, Judge Justice Hayden ruled with “most profound regret” that Archie was “brain-stem dead” and had no prospect of recovery. He said it was in Archie’s best interest to halt medical care.
In his decision, the judge said “every aspect of Archie’s bodily function is maintained artificially through ventilatory support, chemical assistance and the physical care provided by the nurses.”
“This is a remarkable medical achievement but the moral and ethical challenges it creates are obvious,” the judge wrote.
Dance said there has not been a day since April 7 that “hasn’t been awful really.”
“It’s been really hard,” she told The Guardian. “Despite the hard, strong face and appearance obviously in front of the cameras up until now, I’ve been pretty broken.”
She said she feels a sense of relief in knowing she fought for Archie until the end.
“I’ve done everything that I promised my little boy I’d do,” she told The Guardian. “And I’ve done it.”