A judge has ruled a boy’s life-support should stop following a treatment dispute at the High Court.
Archie Battersbee, 12, is currently on life-support at the Royal London Hospital in East London.
Doctors treating the young lad said he is “brain-stem dead” and that he should be disconnected from a ventilator.
Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, from Southend, Essex, said the youngster’s heart is still beating and wanted treatment to continue.
This morning, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot ruled that Archie was dead and said doctors could lawfully stop treating him.
His mum has since vowed to appeal the High Court’s decision. Choking back tears, Hollie spoke of her devastation and refused to give up hope. She said: “I know my son is still there.”
The judge said: “I find that Archie died at noon on May 31, 2022, which was shortly after the MRI scans taken that day.
“I find that irreversible cessation of brain stem function has been conclusively established.
“I give permission to the medical professionals at the Royal London Hospital to cease to ventilate mechanically Archie Battersbee.”
The judge went on: “If Archie remains on mechanical ventilation, the likely outcome for him is sudden death and the prospects of recovery are nil.
“He has no pleasure in life and his brain damage is irrecoverable.
“His position is not going to improve. The downside of such a hurried death is the inability of his loving and beloved family to say goodbye.”
Lawyers for Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked Mrs Justice Arbuthnot to decide what moves are in Archie’s best interests.
Justice Arbuthnot had recently oversaw a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
The judge heard that Archie suffered brain damage in an incident at home in early April.
Ms Dance told how she found him unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7 and thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge which was widely circulated on social media.
The youngster has not regained consciousness since that time.
Lawyers representing Archie’s family have told the judge that his heart is still beating.
His mother also said he had gripped her hand at one point.
Ms Dance said, after the ruling, in a statement outside the hospital: “I am devastated and extremely disappointed by the judge’s ruling after weeks of fighting a legal battle when I wanted to be at my little boy’s bedside.
“Basing this judgment on an MRI test and that he is ‘likely’ to be dead, is not good enough.
“This is believed to be the first time that someone has been declared ‘likely’ to be dead based on an MRI test.
“The medical expert opinion presented in court was clear in that the whole concept of ‘brain death’ is now discredited, and in any event, Archie cannot be reliably diagnosed as brain-dead.”
She choked back tears as she continued: “I feel sickened that the hospital and the judge have failed to take the wishes of the family into consideration. I do not believe Archie has been given enough time.
“From the beginning, I have always thought ‘why the rush?’
“His heart is still beating, he has gripped my hand, and as his mother, I know he is still in there.
“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.
“This case raises the significant moral, legal and medical questions as to when a person is dead.
“What does this ruling today tell us about where our society is at? We intend to appeal and will not give up on Archie.”
Yesterday, Ms Dance shared a video on Facebook of a priest praying over Archie while surrounded by cuddly toys.
The mum-of-three previously told The Mirror ahead of the ruling: “It’s devastating. Total strangers are making a decision about whether my son lives or dies.
“It’s so hard as a mother. For 12 years I’ve raised him but now we’ve gone into a hospital you lose your right. It’s awful.”
She added: “I’m devastated, the hospital has had Covid patients in a coma on ventilators for three months, it’s longer than Archie has been in hospital.
“This is my child. I’ve had to become a nurse overnight so I can understand what’s happening to Archie.
“Archie should be treated as a living patient until it can be proven that he’s not.”
A campaign organisation called the Christian Legal Centre is supporting Archie’s family.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting the family’s legal case, said: “This ruling is a devastating moment for Archie and his family.
“The idea that death can be declared on the balance of probability is frankly ludicrous.
“Life is the most precious gift that we have. This ruling sets a troubling and dark precedent.
“This case has raised significant moral, legal and medical questions as to when a person is dead.
“Archie’s parents do not accept that he is dead and are fighting courageously for his life.
“They will not give up now and intend to appeal. We will continue to stand with the family and continue to pray for a miracle.”
Alistair Chesser, the chief medical officer at Barts Health NHS Trust, has expressed sympathies for Archie’s family, adding that the hospital will give them time to appeal.
Speaking outside the Royal London Hospital, Mr Chesser said: “This is a sad and difficult time for Archie’s family and our thoughts and sympathies are with them as they come to terms with what has happened.
“In line with the guidance issued by the court, our expert clinicians will provide the best possible care while life support is withdrawn.
“We are also ensuring that there is time for the family to decide whether they wish to appeal before any changes to care are made.”