A grieving family who were told they were unable to take their eight-year-old son off life support in Barbados have announced his tragic death, after he fell ill with leukaemia on holiday.
Ace, eight, was rushed to hospital and was scheduled to fly back to the UK for emergency medical treatment, but suffered a massive bleed on his brain. He did not regain consciousness.
Mother Amber, 30, and father David had been embroiled in a battle with authorities after hospital bosses intervened to stop her son’s life support from being switched off – despite there being no chance of recovery.
Announcing the news that he had passed away, Ace’s mother said: ‘I will love and remember you until my last breath.’
A GoFundMe page set up to support his family when Ace fell sick has gathered more than £115,000.
Ace, 8, pictured with his mother Amber, 30, before he fell dangerously ill on a trip to Barbados
Little Ace was sitting up in his hospital bed, FaceTiming friends and playing card games with his parents until January 8, when his condition had rapidly deteriorated
Ace was no different to any other healthy little boy when he arrived in Barbados for a family trip from Portsmouth last week with his mother.
But last Tuesday he began feeling ill and was rushed to hospital, where a series of scans revealed he was suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia – before seriously deteriorating after a massive bleed on his brain.
His mother said on Saturday: ‘Ace is now resting – 5th March 2014 – 14th January 2023.
‘There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint in this world.
‘Goodnight Acey Pops, today nature took its course, you are my whole existence and I will love and remember you until my last breath, give nanny Pat a big cuddle from me and let’s get you home my darling baby.’
Little Ace was sitting up in his hospital bed, FaceTiming friends and playing card games with his parents until January 8, when his condition rapidly deteriorated.
Within minutes of coming down with a headache, Ace suffered a catastrophic seizure. He has never regained consciousness.
His devastated family were battling with the government in Barbados for the right to turn his life support off.
Ace’s passing was anounced by his mother on social media on Saturday afternoon
Local councillor for Paulsgrove George Madgwick has been supporting Ace’s family over the last 24 hours, and has said the Foreign Office are now directly involved in his case.
Mr Madgwick added he had also contacted the Prime Minister of Barbados.
Local law stipulates that if there’s a heartbeat, the life support machine cannot be turned off.
But Ace’s family say policymakers were just delaying the inevitable and dragging out their grieving process.
On Tuesday, Amber shared a photo of her and Ace at Disneyland, writing: ‘My baby boy you will always be, no matter where you are, you are the biggest part of me, whether near or far’.
In an update posted on her social media on Friday, she said the ‘cruel and evil’ law was only extending her pain.
She said: ‘My poor baby is [lying] there brain dead, he doesn’t know he is here.
‘He does not know that we are here and they are keeping his body alive to contract infections as the cancer makes his immune system so weak.
‘In the UK once you are declared brain dead your body is declared dead, I cannot understand why they are doing this to us.
‘Doctors here in Barbados and the UK agree that it should be [turned] off as it would in the UK, but they have been overruled.
‘This is cruel and evil, sitting beside your child knowing they are dead and a ventilator is still making their heart beat. I just want to get him home but this is proving impossible.’
She earlier said she would ‘take his place in a heartbeat if I could’.
His aunt, Emma Wearn, spoke to MailOnline from Barbados about the cruelty of the situation.
‘The only way I can describe it is a living nightmare,’ she said on Friday night, trying to keep her composure for the sake of Ace’s mother.
‘It’s hard to speak about it all without crying, it’s been such a horrendous time.’
About 15 of Ace’s closest relatives flew to Barbados when his mother was told there was no chance he would recover.
They are believed to have said their final goodbyes.
Previously, they had been told it could be weeks until Ace passed away.
‘His heartbeat is still strong, because he has a healthy heart and the machine. But all that it means is that it will take longer to pass on his own,’ his aunt explained.
‘We want them to let him rest.’
On Sunday Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth will be lit up in blue as a tribute to the eight-year-old.
Ace’s family say policymakers are now just delaying the inevitable and dragging out their grieving process
Ace was football mad, and also loved MMA and video games, his aunt, Emma Wearn, told MailOnline
Ace was no different to any other healthy little boy when he arrived in Barbados for a family trip from Portsmouth
His grieving mother Amber, 30, had been told her only chance at arguing her son’s case was to appear in court, Ms Wearn said. The earliest they could get a hearing is next Wednesday, but that will no longer be necessary.
She and his father, David, had together decided to turn off his life support on Thursday.
‘Doctors have said it would be sensible to get a lawyer,’ a relative told MailOnline.
The family said doctors in both the UK and Barbados expressed their sympathies and had said their medical opinion would be to turn the life support off as soon as the family is ready.
But they were ‘overruled’ by the legislation.
Ms Wearn said: ‘His poor mum can’t even start to try to process this awful, awful thing that’s happened, because now they’ve gone and done this to her.
‘We can’t understand how, if you’re brain dead, why they’d keep him alive for no reason. His body could catch infections.’
His family spent days praying for a miracle, despite doctors warning them very early on that it was likely leukaemia
Local law stipulates that if there’s a heartbeat, the life support machine cannot be turned off
Ace’s uncle Joey said Amber has been left ‘devastated’ by the death of her only child.
He told The Sun: ‘Ace has not had any treatment for leukaemia because he’s dead, so now the leukaemia is just attacking his body.
‘It’s just torture now. His body is covered in bruises.
‘My sister has got to sit through that for another four or five days, seeing her son deteriorate when all she wants is for him to be at peace.’
He added: ‘We just want to bring him home. I was so close to Ace. He’s like a son to me. He was a loving, caring, cheeky little boy.’
‘The legal loopholes have been described as cruel and evil, and unfair on both Ace and his family.’
When he initially fell ill, his family put it down to the heat, but by Tuesday evening a blood rash had started spreading through his body.
He was rushed to the children’s ward where tests revealed he had seriously low white cells, red cells and platelets.
His family spent days praying for a miracle, despite doctors warning them very early on that it was likely leukaemia. They desperately donated platelets, hoping it would boost his chances of improving.
But after the seizure, his family learned he was ‘not showing any brain activity at all’.
Little Ace will be remembered by loved ones for his cheeky personality.
Joey said: ‘He was just the funniest little dude. That’s what we call him, little dude. He’s so cheeky, has so much attitude. He really just knew his own mind.
‘And he was loved. Really, really loved.’
Locals have donated prized possessions – from boxing gloves worn by Anthony Joshua to an England top signed by Michael Owen – while a public GoFundMe appeal has now topped £111,000
He added on social media: ‘I can’t accept it. I will never accept it till the day I die.
‘A part of me has died, I love you baby boy I just want you to come back.’
The family have been overwhelmed by the way their community back at home in Portsmouth has rallied for them.
As they’re in a foreign country doing everything they can to bring little Ace home, the local community has been holding fundraisers in the eight-year-old’s honour.
Locals have donated prized possessions – from boxing gloves worn by Anthony Joshua to an England top signed by Michael Owen – while a public GoFundMe appeal has now topped £111,000.
And his local football club will also hold a minute’s silence in his honour prior to their next game, relatives said.
Ms Wearn said: ‘The support has been so overwhelming. It’s made us proud to be part of the community. It’s been second to none.’
WHAT IS ACUTE MYELOID LEUKAEMIA?
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a type of blood cancer that starts in young white blood cells in the bone marrow.
AML affects around one in 200 men and one in 255 women in the UK at some point in their lives.
Approximately 19,500 new cases occur every year in the US. It is most often diagnosed in older people.
Symptoms can include:
- Frequent infections
- Bruising or bleeding easily, including nosebleeds or heavy periods
- Weight loss
- Bone and joint pain
- Swollen abdomen
- Pale skin
AML is usually treated via chemotherapy. A bone marrow or stem cell transplant may be required.
Source: Cancer Research UK