Archie Battersbee: Tests set to determine if Southend boy brain-dead after mum asks for more time

Archie Battersbee
Credit: Hollie Dance
Archie Battersbee, of Southend, Essex, is on life support in London.

A judge has backed testing to determine whether a boy who suffered “catastrophic” brain damage in an incident at home more than a month ago is brain-dead.

Archie Battersbee, 12, has not regained consciousness after the incident at his Southend, Essex, home.

Specialists treating the schoolboy think it “highly likely” the youngster is dead, and say life-support treatment should stop.

Doctors at Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, plan to carry out the testing next week, a spokesperson for the trust running the facility said.

On Thursday, Archie's mother, Hollie Dance, had urged the judge to give her son “more time”.

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

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot made a ruling after considering the latest stage of Archie’s case at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court on Friday (13 May).

She concluded that a brain-stem test would be in Archie's best interests.

Specialists treating Archie at the hospital think it “highly likely” that he is dead and say life-support treatment should end.

Bosses at the hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, on Thursday asked Justice Arbuthnot to rule that a test to establish whether Archie was brain-stem dead would be in the youngster’s best interests.

Hollie Dance, Archie Battersbee's mother, outside the High Court. Credit: James Manning/PA

A doctor told the judge that the brain stem was responsible for the functions which kept people alive.

Archie’s parents Ms Dance, 46, and Paul Battersbee, 56, who are separated and both from Southend, have raised concerns about doctors’ proposals and want treatment to continue.

Ms Dance had urged the judge to give her son, a keen gymnast, “more time”.

“Everyone is in such a rush,” she said.

Archie Battersbee in hospital Credit: Hollie Dance/PA

“I’m asking the judge to just give him more time – give him time to fight back.”

She added: “It’s only been five weeks – it took me longer to get over the flu. What’s the rush?”

A Barts Health NHS Trust spokesperson said: “This is an incredibly sad situation and our thoughts and sympathies are with Archie and his family at this time.

“Following the decision that brain stem testing is in Archie’s best interests, we will now take steps to arrange the testing to take place next week as directed by the court.”

The judge overseeing the private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London said Archie could be named in media reports of the case.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot oversaw a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

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

“We are standing with Archie and his family every step of the way,” said the centre’s chief executive, Andrea Williams.

“We want to give him every chance of life.”

She added after the ruling: “What happened to Archie because of his accident is a tragedy.

“However, it will be an even greater tragedy should he be removed from ventilation when there is still hope.

“We are fighting to give Archie every chance to recover.

“This case raises the significant moral, legal and medical question as to when a person is dead.

“Archie’s parents do not accept that he is dead and are fighting for his life.”


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