Doctors to test whether 12-year-old boy at centre of treatment dispute is dead

A High Court judge concluded late on Friday that a brain-stem test would be in Archie Battersbee’s best interests.

14 May 2022

Specialists will next week carry out a test to try to establish whether a 12-year-old boy at the centre of a life-support treatment dispute after suffering “catastrophic” brain damage in an incident at home is dead, hospital bosses say.

A High Court judge concluded late on Friday that a brain-stem test would be in Archie Battersbee’s best interests after a doctor told her that the brain stem was responsible for the functions which kept people alive.

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot was told that specialists treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, thought it “highly likely” the youngster was dead.

A spokeswoman for the hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, said, after the private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London, that a brain-stem test would be arranged for next week.

Hollie Dance, mother of Archie Battersbee
Hollie Dance, mother of Archie Battersbee, the 12-year-old boy at the centre of a High Court life-treatment dispute, who has urged a judge to give the youngster ‘more time’ (James Manning/PA)

Hollie Dance, who wept as Mrs Justice Arbuthnot delivered her ruling, has told how she found her son Archie with a ligature over his head, on April 7, and thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.

“There’s not been enough time to see what he can do,” said Miss Dance after the ruling.

“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.”

She added: “Until it’s God’s way I won’t accept he should go.

Archie Battersbee court case
Archie Battersbee, 12, suffered a ‘catastrophic’ brain injury (Hollie Dance/PA)

“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.”

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, 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.

“Anyone can appreciate how much they must dread the result.”

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot oversaw a private hearing but said Archie could be named in media reports of the case.

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

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