'I'm having to fight for his right to live': Archie Battersbee's mother claims son squeezed her hand

ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry speaks to Hollie Dance, who is at the bedside of her son Archie Battersbee everyday

The mother of a 12-year-old boy at the centre of a high court life-support treatment dispute has told ITV News she will continue to fight for "his right to live".

Archie Battersbee has not regained consciousness after suffering brain damage in an incident at home in April. Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, believe he is “brain-stem dead” and say life-support treatment should end.

His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee say the youngster’s heart is still beating and that he has squeezed his mother's hand. They are hoping for more time and have taken their fight to the High Court.

Lawyers representing Archie’s family have told the judge that his heart is still beating.

They also say there was an issue as to whether “the correct procedure” had been followed, and whether the “family’s views” had been taken into account.

Archie Battersbee's family are fighting for his life-support treatment to continue. Credit: PA Media

Speaking to ITV News Ms Dance described the ordeal as "hell".

"It's extremely emotional," she said.

"He's lying there in that hospital bed. I'm having to fight for his right to live. And it's hard, it's really hard."

She claimed he has squeezed her hand.

"All the time there's hope, I'm going to continue to fight for that little boy, because I am his eyes and his voice and ears at the minute, so I'll continue to do that," Ms Dance said.

"Only a mum knows their child. I don't care what anyone says, only a mum and as a parent if you knew in your gut he's there, what would you do in that situation?"

'He's lying there in his hospital bed' - Hollie Dance does not want doctors to turn off her son's life support. Credit: ITV News

Speaking in court on Tuesday, a specialist said tests had shown no “discernible” brain activity, but revealed “significant areas of tissue necrosis”, and she added: “We believe that it is very likely that he is brain-stem dead.”

The judge had been told by a doctor at an earlier hearing that the brain stem was responsible for the functions that kept people alive.

However, another specialist giving evidence on Tuesday said that he knows of cases where people diagnosed as being dead by “neurological criteria” have been proved to be alive.Dr Alan Shewmon told Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, who has been asked to decide what moves are in the best interests of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, that the only sure “diagnostic criterion” for death was the “permanent and irreversible absence of circulation”.Dr Shewmon, who was asked to provide a report by lawyers representing Archie’s family, told the judge on Tuesday that there were “referenced” cases of where “a person diagnosed as being dead by neurological criterion” had subsequently “proved not to be dead”.

“There is no diagnostic protocol for either ‘brain death’ or ‘brain stem death’ that enjoys zero risk of false positive error – declaring a live patient dead,” Dr Shewmon, who gave evidence via a video link, told Mrs Justice Arbuthnot.

“The only absolutely sure diagnostic criterion for death is the permanent and irreversible absence of circulation.”

Doctors believe Archie Battersbee is 'brain stem dead'. Credit: PA

Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7 and thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.

She said she has been unable to come to terms with the trauma of his accident because of the legal dispute.

"If it wasn't for the court case, I might have come to terms with that bit a lot quicker.

"I've had to put a block up".

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot is overseeing a final hearing – due to end on Wednesday – in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

A campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre is supporting Archie’s family.