Archie Battersbee has died in hospital after his life support was turned off, his family has confirmed.
The 12-year-old had been in a deep coma since being found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex, by mum Hollie Dance in April.
He was being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.
Speaking through tears outside the Royal London Hospital, Ms Dance said her son died at 12.15pm on Saturday after treatment was withdrawn.
In an emotional statement, she added: ‘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.’
Another relative, Ella Carter, described the trauma faced by the family as ‘barbaric’ as she described the 12 year-old’s final moments.
She said: ‘His stats remained completely stable for two hours until they completely removed ventilation and he went completely blue.
‘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.’
Ms Carter and Archie’s mother then collapsed into each other’s arms, cried, hugged and walked slowly back into the hospital.
Archie’s parents had fought a long-running legal battle over the withdrawal of treatment and in recent days made bids to the High Court, Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights to have him transferred to a hospice to die.
Speaking after a last-ditch plea to the European Court of Human Rights to step in was rejected on Friday, Ms Dance insisted she had done everything she promised her son she would do.
In an interview with Sky News, she described feeling ‘pretty broken’, saying the day had been ‘absolutely awful’.
Breaking down, she said: ‘The last however many weeks since April 7, I don’t think there’s been a day that hasn’t been awful really.’
Ms Dance added: ‘It’s been really hard. Despite the hard strong face and appearance obviously in front of the cameras up until now, I’ve been pretty broken.’
She said the hospital had made it clear there were no more options and that life support would be withdrawn at 10am on Saturday.
Asked if there was anything more she could do, Ms Dance said: ‘No. I’ve done everything that I promised my little boy I’d do. And I’ve done it.’
Supporters brought flowers to the hospital on Saturday morning.
Shelley Elias, 43, said she had come to the Royal London Hospital because ‘I wanted his mum Hollie and the family to know I was thinking of them’.
Mrs Elias, 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. When things like this happen, you just think ‘I have nothing to moan about in life’.’
Candles flickered in the shape of the letter ‘A’ and also formed a love heart around a card with Archie’s name in a makeshift tribute at a statue in front of the hospital.
It was created by passers-by who said they wanted to show their support.
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Archie was a fit and healthy aspiring gymnast until he was found unconscious at home on April 7 this year.
Ms Dance has said she believes he was taking part in a dangerous online ‘blackout’ challenge.
The ‘bleak’ medical background to the case is set out in the court judgements which have been written up after each unsuccessful legal hearing.
On July 25, Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division of the High Court, referred to a ‘short but devastating’ summary of the ‘all-embracing nature of the damage that has resulted from the original brain injury’ given by a consultant paediatric intensivist.
He wrote: ‘The description given is more, far, far more, than that of a boy who is simply “on a ventilator”.’
The judgement referred to a nurse who says none of the medical staff ‘witnessed any sign of spontaneous life’ in Archie during his time in hospital.
It said they found it ‘upsetting to look after someone who they know has an irreversible injury and sadly, every intervention feels futile’, and ‘all feel incredibly sad for this family’.
The ruling, which confirmed that doctors could lawfully stop providing life-support treatment to the schoolboy, went on: ‘Archie’s condition and the awful predicament that he and his family are in have achieved widespread Press and media publicity, much of which has included a photograph showing Archie as a most engaging boy.
‘Tragically, the consequence of the catastrophic brain injury that he sustained on the April 7 is that Archie is no longer the boy in the photograph.
‘He is, as the detailed description given by Mr Justice Hayden and confirmed in the short account of Nurse G demonstrate, someone whose every bodily function is now maintained by artificial means.’
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Ms Dance described having to deal with cruel social media trolls as well as the gruelling legal battle.
She said: ‘I’ve never lied about a thing. I’ve been open and honest about everything that has happened but it’s not enough for people.
‘I’ve been messaged to say Archie is “rotting” that he “should be six-feet under”. I’ve even had people say they will come to the hospital and take him off life support themselves.’
Ms Dance went on: ‘I know I’ve done a very good job being Archie’s mum. Based on my own childhood I was determined to be as good as a mother as I can possibly be and I feel like I have done that to the very best of my ability.’
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