Archie Battersbee, the 12-year-old boy whose parents fought a long-running legal battle to prevent his life support treatment from being removed, has died, his mother has said.
Speaking outside the Royal London hospital, Hollie Dance said he had “fought right until the very end”.
Speaking through tears, she said: “In sadness, Archie passed at 12.15pm today. I would just like to say I am the proudest mum in the world.
“He was such a beautiful little boy. He fought right until the very end and I am so proud to be his mum.”
Ella Carter, a relative of the family, said it was “barbaric” to see the young boy die.
“His stats remained completely stable for two hours until they completely removed ventilation and he went completely blue,” she said.
“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.”
Supporters of the family came to the hospital with flowers on Saturday morning and created a tribute to Archie in front of the hospital with candles in the shape of the letter A.
Shelley Elias, 43, a mother of two from Stepney, east London, who said she vaguely knew Archie’s mother, brought flowers, a card and some candles. She said: “I did not know what to write because there are no words that will take the pain away.
“I just wanted the mum and her family to know that I am here for them. My boy is 12, the same age as Archie, and this just puts things in perspective.”
Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which has been supporting the family’s case, said: “Our thoughts, prayers and support are with Archie’s family at this tragic moment.
“We will continue to support the family, as we have done throughout, ever since they came to us after being issued with last-minute legal proceedings to remove life support from Archie.
“We are thankful for the widespread public support for Archie and his family. It has been a privilege to stand alongside them.”
Dance and Archie’s father, Paul Battersbee, had in recent days made applications to the high court, court of appeal and European court of human rights (ECHR) to have him transferred to a hospice to die.
A last-ditch plea to the ECHR to intervene was rejected late on Friday, following a high court ruling that he must remain at Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London.
Archie, a talented gymnast and lover of mixed martial arts, had been in a coma since suffering a catastrophic brain injury on 7 April. His mother, who had been at his bedside almost constantly ever since, believes it resulted from him choking while taking part in a viral social media challenge.
Doctors said Archie was brain stem dead but his parents wanted life support to continue.
Last month, a high court judge, praising Archie as having “an infectious enthusiasm for life”, ruled it was “futile” to keep treating him.
In an interview with Sky News, recorded on Friday, Dance, of Southend-on-Sea, Essex, said the hospital had made it clear there were no more options and that life support would be withdrawn at 10am on Saturday.
Dance 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,” she added. “Despite the hard strong face and appearance obviously in front of the cameras up until now, I’ve been pretty broken.”
Asked if there was anything more she could do, she said: “No. I’ve done everything that I promised my little boy I’d do. And I’ve done it.”
In a statement, Barts Health NHS trust said Archie’s “tragic case not only affected the family and his carers but touched the hearts of many across the country.”
Alistair Chesser, the trust’s chief medical officer, said: “Archie Battersbee passed away on Saturday afternoon at the Royal London hospital after treatment was withdrawn in line with court rulings about his best interests. Members of his family were present at the bedside and our thoughts and heartfelt condolences remain with them at this difficult time.
“The trust would like to thank the medical, nursing and support staff in the paediatric intensive care department who looked after Archie following his awful accident. They provided high quality care with extraordinary compassion over several months in often trying and distressing circumstances. This tragic case not only affected the family and his carers but touched the hearts of many across the country.”