Archie Battersbee’s funeral saw his mother share the heartbreaking moment she watched him die in hospital.
Hollie Dance stayed by Archie’s bedside as his life support was withdrawn, after she and Archie’s father Paul Battersbee lost a High Court battle to keep it switched on. The 12-year-old had been in a coma for four months after Ms Dance found him unconscious at their home with a ligature around his head.
Ms Dance told tearful mourners at Archie’s funeral: “The morning Archie died, I told him how much I loved him. At midday, they took his pipe out. It took 15 minutes for his heart to stop. There was nothing ‘dignified’ about his death.
“It was heartbreaking, watching your child suffocate. That image will never, ever leave me.”
Archie was taken to the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, east London, after he was found unconscious at his home in Southend, Essex, on April 7. The High Court was told by doctors that Archie had suffered brain stem death, and that further treatment was not in his best interests.
However, Ms Dance and her family remained convinced there was still hope, insisting he had tried to breathe by himself.
While Mrs Justice Arbuthnot initially ruled in favour of the doctors, the Court of Appeal ruled another judge should review evidence in the case. But a second judge, Mr Justice Hayden, also ruled against the wishes of Ms Dance and Archie’s father Paul Battersbee.
With legal proceedings ultimately concluding the boy’s life support should be withdrawn, he died on August 6. Yesterday, Archie’s funeral saw St Mary’s Church, Prittlewell in Southend “packed to the rafters” as mourners gathered.
His mother and father led the way as Archie was carried into the church in a silver coffin, with a single floral wreath on top. Many in the congregation wore splashes of purple, the colour of Archie’s Army, a support group which backed his mother’s fight to keep him on life support.
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She added: “There should be a comprehensive public inquiry into the operation of this system; and then a change of the law to protect the grieving families from cruelty.”
Ms Dance is also preparing to discuss the implications of Archie’s case with a health minister. She wrote to Steve Barclay, who was health secretary when Archie died, asking if she and her MP Anna Firth could meet for talks.
Mr Barclay, who is no longer health secretary, replied to say a minister would discuss Archie’s case. The Christian Legal Centre, a campaign group who have been supporting Archie’s family, said no date had yet been fixed for a meeting.