How 121 heartbreaking days turned the lives of Archie's family upside down

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

For 121 agonising days, his family have been willing him to pull through and show signs he might one day emerge from the deep coma he fell into on April 7.

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

The team treating him said it was in his best interests to switch off the array of machines keeping his heart beating.

His family sought to prevent that, beginning a court tussle which would wrestle with the gravest questions imaginable about life, death and the rights of parents over the experts tasked with caring for us.

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

This is how that journey played out.

April 7

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

April 26

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

Doctors think it ‘highly likely’ that the youngster is effectively dead, and say it is in his best interests that life-support treatment should stop. 

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May 13

High Court Judge Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that a brain stem test would be in Archie’s best interests.

May 16

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

June 6-8

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, sitting in the Family Division of the High Court, oversees a three-day hearing, during which doctors say it is ‘very likely’ he is ‘brain-stem dead’ but lawyers representing Archie’s family argue his heart is still beating and want care to continue.

June 13

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that Archie is dead and gives the go ahead for doctors to lawfully stop treating him. Archie’s family say they plan to appeal.

June 20

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, are granted permission to appeal against the decision.

June 29

Three appeal judges rule that the case should be looked at again by a different High Court judge. Archie’s parents say they are ‘delighted’ at the decision.

July 11

High Court judge Mr Justice Hayden hears evidence from doctors that continuing to treat Archie will only ‘delay the inevitable’. Archie’s mum says her son is a ‘natural-born fighter’ and urges doctors to continue care.

July 15

Mr Justice Hayden rules in favour of the hospital trust, saying the medical evidence is ‘compelling and unanimous’ and paints a ‘bleak’ picture, adding: ‘There can be no hope at all of recovery.’

Archie’s parents say they will ask Court of Appeal judges to overturn the ruling.

July 21-22

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 25

The three Court of Appeal judges rule that doctors can lawfully stop providing life-support treatment to Archie. Again, the family announce plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

July 28

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

July 29

With legal options running out, the family make a ‘last-ditch’ application to a UN committee to step in.

July 31

The hospital caring for Archie was due to be withdrawn on August 1 at 2pm but it was delayed when a new court hearing was scheduled with hours to go. It came have the government asked the Court of Appeal to ‘urgently consider’ a request while the UN committee assessed the case.

August 1

The Court of Appeal rejects a request to postpone stopping Archie’s treatment. It says his life-support care will end at midday the following day.

August 2

Archie’s parents are refused permission to appeal against the latest ruling at the Supreme Court. Ms Dance says Barts Health NHS Trust will begin to withdraw Archie’s life support on August 3 at 11am unless the family have submitted an application to the ECHR by 9am that day.

August 3

The ECHR refuses the last-ditch application. Archie’s family refocus their legal efforts to have him moved to a hospice and appeal to the High Court.

August 4

A hearing lasts late into the evening where the hospital rules it would not be in Archie’s best interests to move him out of the hospital in his fragile state.

August 5

Mrs Justice Theis decides the boy should not moved to a hospice. The High Court judge refuses the family permission to appeal against her ruling, granting a stay on the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment until 2pm on Friday to allow them to go directly to the Court of Appeal.

August 6

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

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