Life support

Boy’s parents await decision on final stage of fight against life-saving treatment


he parents of a 12-year-old boy who suffered a ‘devastating’ brain injury three months ago are waiting for a High Court judge to rule on the latest round of a life-saving treatment battle.

Doctors treating Archie Battersbee say continued treatment is not in his best interest and should be stopped.

Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee – from Southend in Essex, disagree.

Judge Hayden considered the evidence during a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Monday.

He said he intends to issue a decision on Friday on what measures are in Archie’s best interests.

Another High Court judge had previously ruled that Archie was dead, but the Court of Appeal judges upheld Archie’s parents’ challenge to the rulings made by Judge Arbuthnot and said the evidence had to be examined.

Ms Dance had urged Judge Hayden to let Archie die a natural death.

She said her son would like the treatment to continue.

Ms Dance told the judge Archie was a ‘fighter by nature’ and said she was ‘his voice’.

Archie Battersbee, 12, is at the center of a legal dispute (Family handout/PA) / PA Media

Ms Dance told Judge Hayden on Monday that she was “100 per cent” sure Archie would want the treatment to continue.

“I think we come into the world naturally,” she told the judge.

“Let nature take its course.”

She added, “If it’s God’s will and Archie wants to give up, then let nature take its course.”

Ms Dance said Archie was a “born fighter”.

“If Archie gives up fighting his illness and dies, I can accept that,” she said.

“But if we turn off the fan, knowing Archie is going to die, I can’t accept that.”

She said: “This little boy is fighting in my opinion. He can’t speak, he’s unconscious. I am his voice. I will fight for him until Archie decides I can stop fighting.

Archie Battersbee’s mother Hollie Dance (right) and family friend Ella Carter outside the High Court in London (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) / PA wire

Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, told judges they believed he was ‘brain stem dead’ and said continuing life-sustaining treatment was not in his best interests.

Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, have asked for rulings on moves that are in Archie’s best interest.

Ms Dance told the judge in a written statement that everything about Archie’s personality showed he was ‘a fighter, not a quitter’.

“I respect the opinions of medical professionals, but they are opinions, not facts,” she added.

“The doctors at this hospital got a number of things wrong.

“I’m not saying this to criticize them, but it really undermines trust when certain doctors then proceed to impose their opinions on us, in a high-handed way, without discussion and as if nothing had happened.”

She continued: “He is not in pain, he is not in pain and there is always a possibility, however small, that he will survive and get better.

“If he only survives with a severe disability, I’m happy to spend my life looking after him.

“If he is going to die, I (and the rest of the family) want his death to be a natural death.

“What we strongly oppose is a ‘planned’ death resulting from the act of removing him from the ventilator.”

Father of Archie Battersbee, Paul Battersbee outside the High Court in central London. AP/James Manning / PA wire

Archie’s father Paul Battersbee, who also lives in Southend but is estranged from Ms Dance, told Judge Hayden Archie ‘wouldn’t want to leave’ his mum.

“I think it should be left a little longer,” he said.

“I don’t look at it through rose-tinted glasses, but it’s only been 12 or 13 weeks and the doctors have already been wrong.”

He added, “The most important thing for me is knowing that he followed God’s way.”

Archie’s mum has told how she found him unconscious with a ligature on his head on April 7 and thinks he might have taken part in an online challenge.

He did not regain consciousness.

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