Archie Battersbee: Doctors say boy in life-support fight is 'unresponsive' and will not recover

Archie Battersbee
Credit: Hollie Dance
Archie Battersbee is on a life-support ventilator at the Royal London Hospital. Credit: Family photo

A 12-year-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment legal dispute is "unresponsive" and will not recover, a barrister representing hospital bosses has told a High Court judge.

Martin Westgate QC told Mr Justice Hayden on Monday that Archie Battersbee suffered a "devastating" brain injury during at incident at home in April and specialists do not think it is in his best interests for treatment to continue.

The judge is overseeing the latest in a series of hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

He is reviewing evidence after another High Court judge had earlier ruled that Archie was dead.

Mr Westgate told the hearing that continued treatment is “burdensome”, “contrary to dignity”, and “ethically distressing” for medics treating Archie.

Archie Battersbee’s mother, Hollie Dance, right, with family friend Ella Carter outside the High Court Credit: ITV News Anglia

Archie's parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee from Southend in Essex, are hoping a High Court judge will rule that doctors should keep providing treatment.

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, have told judges that they think Archie is "brain-stem dead" and continuing to treat the 12-year-old will only "delay the inevitable".

They say treatment should end and Archie should be disconnected from a ventilator.

However, Archie’s parents want treatment to continue and lawyers on behalf of Archie’s family say his death should be as natural as possible rather than being planned.

Archie's father Paul Battersbee, outside the High Court in London Credit: PA Images

Miss Dance told Mr Justice Hayden on Monday that she is "100%" sure Archie would want treatment to continue.

"I think we come into this world naturally," she told the hearing.

"Let nature take its course."

She added: "If it is God's will and Archie wants to give up, then let nature take its course."

Miss Dance said Archie had been "very energetic" before being injured, and a "natural-born fighter".

Mr Battersbee told the judge that Archie would "not want to leave" his mother.

"I think he should be left for a bit longer," he said.

"I am not looking at it through rose-tinted glasses, but it has only been 12 or 13 weeks and doctors have got it wrong before."

He added: "The most important thing for me is to know he has gone in God's way."

Lawyers representing the Royal London’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had originally asked Mrs Justice Arbuthnot to decide what moves were in Archie’s best interests.

She concluded that Archie was dead and ruled that doctors could lawfully stop providing treatment.

Archie’s parents had challenged Mrs Justice Arbuthnot’s decisions in the Court of Appeal.

Three appeal judges upheld their challenge and ruled that evidence relating to what was in Archie’s best interests should be reconsidered by a different High Court judge.

Archie Battersbee is on a life-support ventilator at the Royal London Hospital. Credit: Family photo

A barrister representing Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, of Southend, Essex, had argued that Mrs Justice Arbuthnot had made errors.

Edward Devereux QC argued that Mrs Justice Arbuthnot had not carried out a “comprehensive” analysis of evidence relating to whether life-support treatment should continue.

Mr Devereux also argued that evidence had not shown “beyond reasonable doubt” that Archie was dead.

Archie Battersbee and Hollie Dance Credit: ITV News Anglia

Lawyers representing Barts Health NHS Trust have asked Mr Justice Hayden to decide what moves are in Archie’s best interests.

“He is not responsive and has no prospect of recovery,” Mr Westgate, who is leading the trust’s legal team, told Mr Justice Hayden on Monday.

“The trust have come to the conclusion that continuing treatment is no longer in his best interests.”

He added: “All that treatment can do is delay the inevitable result.”

Mr Westgate argued that continued treatment is “burdensome”, “contrary to dignity”, and “ethically distressing” for medics treating him.

Archie Battersbee, 12, is at the centre of a life-treatment courts dispute Credit: Family handout/PA

Archie has been unconscious since suffering brain damage in an incident at home in early April.

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

Speaking exclusively to ITV News Anglia recently, Ms Dance described the harrowing moment she found Archie unconscious, and her fight for her son's life.

A barrister leading Archie's parents' legal team told Mr Justice Hayden it is hoped the youngster will make "some sort of recovery" and argued that continued treatment is not "futile".

Ian Wise QC said Archie would want a "natural" not "choreographed" death.

He said Archie's parents accept that it would be appropriate for the youngster "not to be resuscitated" if he suffers a cardiac arrest.

"The parents hope and pray that Archie will make some sort of recovery."

Mr Justice Hayden's decision on whether Archie's ventilator is switched off is expected on Friday 15 July.

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