A London High Court judge ruled on June 13 that Archie Battersbee, a 12-year-old boy suffering from brain damage, is dead and life-sustaining treatment must be stopped despite his family’s pleas for it to continue.
On April 7, Battersbee was found unconscious with a garter around his neck at his home in Southend, Essex, in an induced coma. Initially it was assumed that it was a “freak accident”, but his family believes that he could have participated in a dangerous Internet challenge.
The boy has since been at the center of a High Court dispute after doctors who treated him at the Royal London Hospital, in Whitechapel, London, said they believed Archie was brain dead and his ventilator should be taken off. .
According to information from dailymail, On June 13, a specialist declared before the Court that the child’s prognosis was “very serious” and that his chances of recovery were “very low.” Asked by the legal team at Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust, if parts of Archie’s brain and spinal cord had died and were decaying, the specialist said yes.
Based on the information provided by the expert, Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled that Archie was already deceased and said that doctors could legally stop treating him:
I find that Archie died at noon on May 31, 2022, shortly after the MRIs were done that day. I believe that irreversible cessation of brainstem function has been conclusively established. I give permission to the medical professionals at the Royal London Hospital to stop mechanically ventilating Archie Battersbee.
However, a legal representative for the family, attorney Bruno Quintavalle, told the judge that Archie’s heart was still beating. In addition, the question was raised as to whether “the correct procedure” had been followed and whether the views of the family had been taken into account.
For their part, Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance, 46, and Paul Battersbee, 56, demand that the minor continue his treatment, believing that if they are given more time, his condition could improve. In a heartbreaking statement outside court, Hollie said she was “devastated and disappointed” by the verdict and added that she will appeal the court’s decision:
I am devastated and extremely disappointed in the judge’s ruling after weeks of fighting a legal battle when I wanted to be at my young son’s bedside. Basing this judgment on an MRI test and that it is ‘likely’ that he is dead is not enough. This is just the beginning and I will not give up the fight for my son.
Although Judge Arbuthnot has not yet given a deadline to file an appeal, the family’s legal team assured that they will request a stay of execution so that Archie’s life support is not disconnected until the appeal process has concluded.
The arguments would be heard by the Court of Appeal and if approved, the case could be heard in the High Court, the final court of appeal for civil cases in the UK.
In a statement, Royal London Hospital group medical director Alistair Chesser said Archie will receive the “best possible care” as his life support is withdrawn. Furthermore, he added that no changes will be made until the family has had time to appeal the ruling:
This is a sad and difficult time for Archie’s family and our thoughts and condolences are with them as they come to terms with what has happened.