Archie Battersbee: Brain-damaged boy should have life support switched off, High Court rules

Judge says 12-year-old died at the end of last month

Archie Battersbee’s mother vows to appeal in life-support treatment fight

Brain-damaged child Archie Battersbee should have his life-support treatment stopped, the High Court has ruled.

The 12-year-old has been in an induced coma after his family said he suffered a “tragic accident” at home.

Medical professionals believe the child is brain dead and want to turn off his life support, while his parents wanted treatment to continue.

A High Court judge had been ordered to decide what was best for the child.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot ruled on Monday the boy was dead and said doctors could lawfully stop treating him.

A High Court judge has given hospital bosses permission to turn off Archie Battersbee’s life support (Hollie Dance/PA)

“I find that Archie died at noon on May 31 2022, which was shortly after the MRI scans taken that day,” she said in a written ruling.

“I find that irreversible cessation of brain stem function has been conclusively established.”

The judge added: “I give permission to the medical professionals at the Royal London Hospital to cease to ventilate mechanically Archie Battersbee.”

She also gave medical professionals at the Whitechapel hospital permission to “extubate” and stop giving medication to the 12-year-old, as well as to not attempt “any cardio or pulmonary resuscitation”.

“The steps I have set out above are lawful,” Mrs Justice Arbuthnot added.

The judge heard that Archie suffered brain damage in an incident at home in early April.

His mother, Hollie Dance, told the court how she found him unconscious on 7 April and thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.

Archie Battersbee's mother, Hollie Dance, speaking outside the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, after the High Court judgement

The youngster has not regained consciousness.

His parents, Ms Dance and Paul Battersbee, had been pushing back against doctors’ proposals to switch off his life support.

His mother said last month she would “rather have some of him than none” and was “fighting for as much time as possible to watch and wait”.

Lawyers representing Archie‘s family had told the judge that his heart is still beating.

After the ruling, Ms Dance said she was “devastated and extremely disappointed” after weeks spent fighting the legal battle instead of being by her son’s bedside.

Archie Battersbee with his mother Hollie Dance

“Basing this judgment on an MRI test and that he is ‘likely’ to be dead, is not good enough. This is believed to be the first time that someone has been declared ‘likely’ to be dead based on an MRI test,” she said.

Ms Dance added: “I feel sickened that the hospital and the judge have failed to take the wishes of the family into consideration. I do not believe Archie has been given enough time. From the beginning I have always thought ‘why the rush?’

“His heart is still beating, he has gripped my hand, and as his mother, I know he is still in there.”

Ms Dance’s statement said the case raised “significant moral, legal and medical questions as to when a person is dead” and the family intended to appeal.

Alistair Chesser, the chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, expressed sympathies for the family following the ruling.

“In line with the guidance issued by the court, our expert clinicians will provide the best possible care while life support is withdrawn,” he said outside the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.

“We are also ensuring that there is time for the family to decide whether they wish to appeal before any changes to care are made.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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