Archie Battersbee: Mum claims son squeezed her fingers as tests set to determine if he is brain-dead

Hollie Dance credit
Southend schoolboy Archie Battersbee, 12, is on life support in a hospital in London.

The mother of a 12-year-old boy who suffered  “catastrophic” brain damage in an incident at his home says she believes he is still aware of what is going on around him.

Archie Battersbee's mother has claimed her son squeezed her fingers "with a tight grip," as she begged a court to order doctors to keep his life support switched on.

Hollie Dance, from Southend, Essex, said there had "not been enough time to see what he can do," following a ruling that testing should be carried out to determine whether Archie is brain-dead.

The schoolboy has not regained consciousness since he was found at home on 7 April with a ligature over his head.

Ms Dance, thinks he may have been taking part in an online challenge.

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

Archie's mum is pleading for more time after a High Court judge last night (Friday, 13 May) ruled that brain-stem testing should go ahead to determine whether Archie is brain-dead.

Hollie Dance Credit: James Manning/PA

She said she believes her son is still aware of what is going on around him, and has even squeezed her hand.

Ms Dance hopes the judge will rule that the Royal London hospital should keep his life support switched on.

"There's not been enough time to see what he can do," she said.

"He has squeezed my fingers with a tight grip.

"I think that's his way of letting me know he's still here and just needs more time."

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

Ms Dance added following the release of the ruling last night: "Until it's God's way I won't accept he should go.

"I know of miracles when people have come back from being brain-dead.

"He may not be the same as he was, but if there's a possibility he could live a happy life after this, I want to give it to him."

Archie Battersbee in hospital Credit: Hollie Dance/PA

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.

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.

The judge who heard that Archie had suffered "catastrophic" brain damage, said Archie's family, and clinicians, needed to know the results of the brain-stem test.

"I understand on a human level the family's anguish," she said as she released her ruling.

"Anyone can appreciate how much they must dread the result."

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-dead would be in the youngster’s best interests.

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 are both from Southend, have raised concerns about doctors’ proposals and want treatment to continue.

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

The trust, which runs the Royal London, added: “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.”

Archie Battersbee, 12, suffered a ‘catastrophic’ brain injury Credit: Hollie Dance/PA

An 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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