A last-minute hearing will be held over whether life-support treatment should be withdrawn for 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, just hours before it is due to end.
The Court of Appeal has granted a virtual hearing for 11am on Monday after the Government asked it to “urgently consider” a request from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to continue his treatment so the committee could examine his case.
The youngster is due to have his life-support at the Royal London Hospital in east London ended at 2pm on Monday, following a lengthy legal battle in which a High Court judge ruled this to be in his best interests.
The decision was later backed by the Court of Appeal and Archie’s family applied to the UN as a final attempt to prevent their son’s treatment from being stopped, with the committee contacting the Government on Friday.
A legal “stay” to prevent treatment being ended has also been put in place until 1pm Monday.
Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, had written to the family over the weekend to inform them they intended to end treatment on Monday afternoon.
Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said the family felt “relieved” that the Government had taken the UN’s intervention seriously.
“This was not a ‘request’ but an interim measures injunction from the UN,” she said.
“The anxiety of being told that Archie’s life-support will be removed tomorrow at 2pm has been horrific.
Hollie Dance has written to the Health Secretary (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
“We are already broken and the not knowing what was going to happen next is excruciating.”
Archie’s parents are being supported by campaign organisation the Christian Legal Centre.
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said the plan to withdraw medical treatment will proceed unless the court directs otherwise on Monday.
He said: “Our deepest sympathies are with Archie’s family at this difficult time.
“We understand a court hearing will take place on Monday morning and we await the outcome.
“The plan to withdraw treatment will proceed unless the court directs otherwise.”
The trust previously said in a letter to Ms Dance and Paul Battersbee, who are separated but both live in Southend, Essex, that the withdrawal process will aim to “preserve Archie’s dignity”.
The trust said in the letter: “We understand that any discussions around the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment are very difficult and painful.
“However, we want to ensure that you and your family are involved as much as you wish to be.”
“You or any of the family may wish to lie on Archie’s bed with him or have him in your arms, if that should be practically possible,” it added.
Paul Battersbee (James Manning/PA)
Ms Dance said this would amount to “extraordinary cruelty” and a “flagrant breach of Archie’s rights as a disabled person”.
She said: “Archie is entitled to have the decisions about his life and death, taken by the NHS and UK courts, to be scrutinised by an international human rights body.
“Hastening his death to prevent that would be completely unacceptable.”
Judges heard that Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7, after she believes he took part in an online challenge.
Doctors believe Archie is brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We recognise this is an exceptionally difficult time for Archie Battersbee’s family and our thoughts are with them.
“The Government asked the High Court to urgently consider the request from the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”