LONDON — A British court is holding an emergency hearing on Monday to determine whether a hospital can end life-support treatment for a 12-year-old boy who has suffered catastrophic brain damage.
The parents of Archie Battersbee are fighting the decision but have lost a series of court challenges. After the family appealed to the United Nations, the British government asked the Court of Appeal to take another look at the case.
The court is holding a remote hearing on Monday, hours before the Royal London Hospital says it will end Archie’s treatment.
Archie was found unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7. His parents believe he may have been taking part in an online challenge that went wrong. Doctors believe Archie is brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.
Several British courts have agreed. Monday’s hearing comes after the U.N. Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities asked for treatment to be continued so it can examine the case.
Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said doctors and judges should not have the final say about Archie’s treatment.
“Archie is my child,” she told the BBC. “It shouldn’t be anybody else’s decision but ours.”
The case is the latest in the U.K. that has pitted the judgment of doctors against the wishes of families. In several cases, including this one, the families have been backed by a religious pressure group, Christian Concern.
Under British law, it is common for courts to intervene when parents and doctors disagree on the treatment of a child. In such cases, the rights of the child take primacy over the parents’ right to decide what’s best for their offspring.
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said “the plan to withdraw treatment will proceed unless the court directs otherwise.”
“Our deepest sympathies are with Archie’s family at this difficult time,” he said.