High Court judge rules that doctors CAN stop life support for brain-damaged Archie Battersbee

A High Court judge has today ruled that doctors can lawfully stop giving life support to brain-damaged 12-year-old Archie Battersbee.  

Archie suffered a devastating brain injury three months ago and doctors treating him said that continued treatment is not in his best interests and should end. 

His parents, Hollie Dance, 46, and Paul Battersbee, 56, from Southend in Essex, disagree.

Mr Justice Hayden, who reviewed evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court earlier this week, on Friday concluded that ending treatment was in Archie’s best interests.

He described what had happened to Archie as a ‘tragedy of immeasurable dimensions’.

Archie (pictured in hospital) suffered a devastating brain injury three months ago and doctors treating him say that continued treatment is not in his best interests and should end

His parents, Hollie Dance (pictured with Archie) and Paul Battersbee, from Southend in Essex, disagree

Another High Court judge had earlier concluded that Archie was dead, but Court of Appeal judges upheld a challenge, made by Archie’s parents, to decisions taken by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and said evidence should be reviewed.

Ms Dance urged Mr Justice Hayden to let Archie die a ‘natural death’. She said her son would want treatment to continue.

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, have told judges they think he is ‘brain-stem dead’ and say continued life support treatment is not in his best interests.

Archie has been in a coma since he was found unresponsive with a ligature around his neck at his home in Southend, Essex, on April 7.

Ms Dance believes her son, a talented gymnast, choked while taking part in a viral social media trend known as the ‘blackout challenge’ that first began circulating online 14 years ago. The youngster has not regained consciousness since.

Archie has been in a coma since he was found unresponsive with a ligature around his neck at his home in Southend, Essex, on April 7

Archie has been in a coma since he was found unresponsive with a ligature around his neck at his home in Southend, Essex, on April 7 

Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, have asked for decisions about what moves are in Archie’s best interests.

Mr Justice Hayden said medical evidence was ‘compelling and unanimous’, and painted a ‘bleak’ picture.

The judge said evidence showed that Archie had suffered a ‘significant injury’ to ‘multiple areas’ of his brain and had not ‘regained awareness at any time’.

‘Archie’s mother described him as a fighter and I have no doubt he was,’ said Mr Justice Hayden.

‘But the fight, if it can properly be characterised as such, is no longer in Archie’s control.

‘The damage to his brain has deprived him of any bodily autonomy.

‘Eventually Archie’s organs will fail and ultimately his heart will stop.’

Archie’s father Paul Battersbee, who also lives in Southend but is separated from Ms Dance, told Mr Justice Hayden 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.’

Archie's family are being supported by a campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre. Pictured: Archie's mother and father

Archie’s family are being supported by a campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre. Pictured: Archie’s mother and father 

Archie's father Paul Battersbee (pictured), who also lives in Southend but is separated from Ms Dance, told Mr Justice Hayden that Archie would 'not want to leave' his mother

Archie’s father Paul Battersbee (pictured), who also lives in Southend but is separated from Ms Dance, told Mr Justice Hayden that Archie would ‘not want to leave’ his mother

Mr Justice Hayden said: ‘This court has to ask itself whether continuation of ventilation in this case is in Archie’s best interests.

‘It is with the most profound regret, but on the most compelling of evidence, that I am driven to conclude that it is not.

‘Accordingly, the court cannot authorise or declare lawful the continuation of this present treatment.

‘It is obvious from the detail of the treatment that I have set out above that it is intrusive, burdensome and intensive. If there were even a possibility that it could achieve some improvement to Archie’s condition, it would be both proportionate and purposeful.

‘Where, as here, the treatment is futile, it compromises Archie’s dignity, deprives him of his autonomy, and becomes wholly inimical to his welfare.

‘It serves only to protract his death, whilst being unable to prolong his life.

‘Having come to this conclusion, there emerges the prospect of an end to Archie’s life, which reverberates more closely with the way he lived in the past.

‘Arrangements can be made… that afford Archie the opportunity for him to die in peaceful circumstances and in the embrace of the family he loved.’

Archie’s family are being supported by a campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre.

Chief executive Andrea Williams said after Mr Justice Hayden’s ruling: ‘This is another devastating blow for the family and for Archie. Sadly, however, this is what we have come to expect from the courts in end-of-life cases.

‘What Archie’s case has shown is that systematic reform is needed to protect the vulnerable and their families in end-of-life matters.

‘Parents of vulnerable and critically ill children are being put through the mill at the most traumatic moments in their lives when what they need is compassion, support and respect from the NHS and the legal system.’

She continued: ‘Behind the back of Parliament and the public, courts seem to have developed a concept of ‘dying with dignity’ which amounts to euthanasia in all but name.

‘These sensitive ethical issues should be debated and determined in the democratic Parliament, not by judicial activists. Life is the most precious gift that we have.’

‘Anyone following this story over the past few months will have seen what it takes to challenge the will of hospital bosses once they have decided life support should be removed.

‘This family have fought courageously to get to this point in taking a stand for Archie’s life. We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with them as they appeal this ruling.’

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