Archie Battersbee has died after his life support was turned off on Saturday, the 12-year-old’s mother has said.
Speaking outside the Royal London Hospital, Hollie Dance said he had “fought right until the very end”, adding: “I am so proud to be his mum.” She said he had died at 12.15pm.
Speaking on her behalf Ellie Carter, a close family friend, said: “For a child to suffocate like that... no family should ever go through what we have gone through. It’s barbaric.”
As his life drew to a close on Saturday, his family having exhausted all legal routes to keeping him alive, well-wishers gathered to show sympathy.
A last-ditch plea to the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in the case was rejected late on Friday, following a High Court ruling that he must remain at Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.
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.
The 12-year-old has been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother in April and had been being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.
In an interview with Sky News, recorded on Friday, Archie's mother Hollie Dance, of Southend, Essex, said she is "pretty broken" and that the day had been "absolutely awful".
Breaking down, she said: "The last however many weeks since 7th April, 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."
Well wishers gather outside hospital
Outside the Royal London Hospital, where the 12-year-old has been on life support for more than 100 days - they laid flowers and lit candles.
Kerry Walton, a hairdresser from Archie’s home town of Southend, laid a bouquet at the feet of the statue of Queen Alexandra, one of the hospital’s most famous benefactors.
“I’ve got two children aged seven and two and I just can’t imagine how Archie’s parents must be feeling,” said Ms Walton, 36. “As a mother I can appreciate what Archie’s mum was trying to do - gain more time for her son. If it was me I’d try to get home from anywhere- even just a glimmer of it.”
Soon others followed, an impromptu shrine springing up in the minutes before doctors switched off his life support at 10am.
This was the time decided by Bart’s Health NHS Trust after the European Court of Human Rights declined to intervene further in the case following the High Court's rejection of a request by Archie’s family for him to be moved to a hospice to die.
Doctors argue it was not in his interests to be moved as it would cause him further distress and even hasten his death.
Archie was left in a comatose state after suffering brain damage thought to have happened after he took part in an online challenge at his home on April 7.
Doctors treating him at east London concluded early on that he was brain-stem dead and maintained continued life-support treatment was not in his best interests.
But his family insisted that treatment should continue, saying the youngster's heart was still beating, and he had gripped his mother's hand.
Until life support was withdrawn on Saturday morning he had been kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments.
Some among the well wishers wore T-shirts with the words Archie King and a photograph of the youngster.
Ms Walton added: “I wanted to pay my respects quietly and peacefully, like others are doing. It’s just so sad.”
Evelina Benekeraitiene, 33, laid out 14 candles around a handwritten sign with Archie’s name on it drawn by her son.
“My son is exactly the same age as Archie and even looks like him,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking for any parent and they shouldn’t have to go through this.”
As 10 o’clock struck and doctors in the building began the process of taking Archie off life support and making him as comfortable as possible, the small crowd outside stood in quiet contemplation.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Shelley, who works at the hospital and is familiar with matters of life and death. “Just so sad. I’ve got a little boy myself and I can’t imagine what it’s like. I don’t want to.”