A High Court judge in the UK has ruled that a 12-year-old suffering from brain damage is dead and that life support treatment should stop, despite his ‘devastated’ family begging to continue it because they believe a miracle can happen.
Archie Battersbee was found unresponsive with a ligature around his neck at his home in Essex on April 7.
Doctors initially assumed to be a ‘freak accident’, but his family say they suspect he may have been taking part in a dangerous online challenge.
Doctors treating him at Royal London Hospital believe the young man is brain dead and should be disconnected from a ventilator but his parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, say their son’s heart is still beating and he could still fight his way back to life.
The court ruling on Monday June 13 read: ‘I find that Archie died at noon on May 31 2022, which was shortly after the MRI scans taken that day.
‘I find that irreversible cessation of brain stem function has been conclusively established.
‘I give permission to the medical professionals at the Royal London Hospital to cease to ventilate mechanically Archie Battersbee.’
In a heartbreaking statement outside court on Monday, Hollie vowed to appeal, saying: ‘This is only the start and I will not give up my fight for my son’.
She says she has felt Archie squeeze her fingers ‘with a tight grip’ and believes it’s ‘his way of letting me know he’s still there and just needs more time’.
Saying she has been left ‘sickened’ by the hospital and judge, she accused them of ‘failing to take the wishes of the family into consideration’.
Hollie said: ‘I am devastated and extremely disappointed by the judge’s ruling after weeks of fighting a legal battle when I wanted to be at my little boy’s bedside.
‘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.
‘The medical expert opinion presented in court was clear in that the whole concept of “brain death” is now discredited, and in any event, Archie cannot be reliably diagnosed as brain-dead.’
In a statement, the Royal London Hospital’s Group Chief Medical Officer Alistair Chesser said Archie will be provided with the ‘best possible care’ as his life support is withdrawn.
He also said that no changes will be made until the family has been given time to appeal the ruling.
‘This is a sad and difficult time for Archie’s family and our thoughts and sympathies are with them as they come to terms with what has happened’, Mr Chesser said.