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Baptized from hospital bed, brain-damaged UK boy fights for life

J-P Mauro - published on 06/15/22

The family of Archie Battersbee, who suffered catastrophic brain damage after an internet challenge gone wrong, converted to Catholicism when their comatose son was baptized on Easter Sunday.

A UK boy who suffered brain damage after an internet challenge went wrong is the center of a legal dispute involving whether he has the right to life.

Now, his mother, who recently converted to Catholicism along with other members of the family, is seeking assistance from medical professionals abroad after courts ruled that the boy’s life support should be removed. 

Brain damage

Archie Battersbee, 12, was discovered hanging from the top of the stairs with a ligature around his neck on April 7. According to New Daily Compass, his mother, Hollie Dance, described the incident as “an accident” or “an online challenge gone wrong.” Dance rushed her son to Royal London Hospital, where he was diagnosed with catastrophic brain damage. 

Archie, who was a promising gymnast with a passion for MMA, has not regained consciousness since. His family, however, has noted marked improvements in his condition, including opening his eyes and squeezing his mother’s fingers until they turn bright red. While doctors have suggested these are nervous responses, his family believes that with more time, he could recover.

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In the weeks that followed, Dance has stayed by her son’s side and has attempted to prevent doctors from testing Archie for “brain death.” She worried that such a diagnosis could lead a court to order his life support removed. These fears were confirmed in a recent ruling by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot at the Family Division of the High Court, which called for Archie’s treatment to end. 

Dance told the Guardian that she intends to appeal the decision: 

“I’m his mother and I want to preserve his life, but our beliefs as a family have not been taken into consideration.” Dance stated, “His heart is still beating and we want treatment to continue. My son hasn’t been given enough time and there have been miracles where people have come back from brain injuries.”

Catholic conversion

Saying she would not accept the decision “until it’s God’s way,” Dance has leaned on her faith since her son’s accident. In fact, she converted to Catholicism on Easter, the same day that her son Archie was baptized from his hospital bed, reported the New Daily Compass report.

From the age of 10 Archie began discerning an attraction to the Catholic faith, which budded in his twelfth year. He lived on the same street as a Catholic church and would often watch as the parishioners went in for Mass. As an athlete and a prospective fighter, Archie would take note when the boxers he followed talked about their faith, or prayed before a bout.

Last Christmas he began asking his mother if he could be baptized into the Catholic Church. Dance was not opposed to this, but neither was it her priority. When Archie was hospitalized just a week before Easter, however, she made arrangements for Archie to be baptized in his hospital bed on Easter Sunday. Dance and her two other children, Lauren, 20, and Tom, 22, were baptized as Catholics the following day. 

Dance said: 

“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 the possibility he could live a happy life after this, I want to give it to him.”

Appeal

Hollie and Archie’s fight is far from over, as Dance has vowed to appeal the decision of the court. In this effort she has found support from her family, who have set up an Instagram page to document Archie’s case and progress. The public has also sent in their support through a GoFundMe campaign, “Just for Archie,” which has raised over £20,000. 

The hospital’s chaplain has also offered spiritual support. They have been holding prayer services from the chapel every Sunday, streamed through Facebook. The weekly event has drawn participation from people who wish to pray for Archie’s recovery from around the world. 

While Dance is appealing the court ruling, she is also asking medical professionals from other countries to step forward to offer to take on Archie’s case, but with the goal of healing the child. Meanwhile she is cautioning parents to be mindful of the dangers of internet challenges and to talk about them with their children. She told the Guardian

“I think it is important to say that Archie was copying an online challenge he saw on social media. I think parents need to know about these kinds of things and just how quickly it can change your life.”

Authorities at Royal London Hospital have stated that they will make no changes to Archie’s care until the appeal is completed. 

Read more at New Daily Compass.

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