A 12-year-old boy who suffered “catastrophic” brain damage should undergo a test so doctors can try to establish whether he is dead, a High Court judge has ruled
Archie Battersbee, of Southend, Essex, has not regained consciousness after suffering brain damage in an incident at home more than a month ago.
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot concluded that a brain-stem test would be in Archie’s best interests.
Specialists treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in east London think it is “highly likely” that the youngster is dead and say life-support treatment should end.
Archie’s mother Hollie Dance, 46, urged the judge to give the youngster “more time”.
Bosses at the hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, on Thursday asked Mrs Justice Arbuthnot to rule that a test to establish whether Archie was brain-stem dead would be in the youngster’s best interests.
A specialist told the judge that the brain stem was responsible for the functions which kept people alive.
Miss Dance said she was “disgusted” by the verdict and said it has been “absolute hell watching my other children hear over and over again by the hospital trust that my child’s already dead”.
“It’s just psychological trauma that’s going to impact us for the rest of our lives,” she added.
She said she wants to see the law changed with regards to brain stem testing.
She and Archie’s father, Paul Battersbee, have questioned the reliability of the test and want the youngster’s treatment to continue.
Ella Carter, a family member and spokesperson, told the court he opened his eyes and tears streamed out when his ventilator tube was replaced – a very painful procedure.
The family have interpreted this as a sign that he could still be alive – but the NHS has previously warned that even those who are brain dead can still have physical reflexes.
Miss Dance said she found her son, a keen gymnast and MMA fighter, with a ligature over his head on 7 April and thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.
A campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre said it is supporting Archie’s family.
“This case raises the significant moral, legal and medical question as to when a person is dead,” said the centre’s chief executive, Andrea Williams.
“Archie’s parents do not accept that he is dead and are fighting for his life.”
Boxers David Haye and Ricky Hatton have posted videos of support and a gofundme page has also raised more than £15,000 so far in donations.