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Archie Battersbee’s family granted second appeal

J-P Mauro - published on 07/21/22

Archie's family will now seek to convince a new judge that the boy, who has been unresponsive since April, is not beyond help.

The case of Archie Battersbee, the 12-year-old English boy whose parents have been fighting for months to keep him on life support, will go before a judge again on Thursday, July 20. In this second appeal, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, Archie’s mom and dad, will seek to reverse the ruling of the first appeal, which found that Archie had no hope of recovery and could be removed from life support. 

Archie

On April 7, Archie was found hanging from the stairs with a ligature tied around his neck. It is believed that Archie was participating in a questionable online challenge known as “blackout,” which calls for participants to choke themselves to the point of passing out. Discovered unresponsive, Archie was rushed to the Royal London Hospital, where he was diagnosed with “catastrophic brain damage.” 

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The boy has not regained consciousness since he was discovered unresponsive, but his mother has documented signs that have given her hope. Archie’s eyes have opened from time to time and Hollie described moments when Archie squeezed her fingers so hard they turned red. These instances, however, have been explained by doctors as nervous responses that do not indicate improvement to his condition. 

Hollie shared the chilling story of how she discovered Archie in an interview with This Morning, featured above.

Initial case

The case was first heard in court on June 13, at which time the judge ruled in agreement with the diagnosis. Mrs. Justice Arbuthnot, who presided over the case, said in her decision: 

“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.”

As she left the courtroom, Dance said that she was “devastated and extremely disappointed” by the decision and vowed to appeal. The distraught mother leaned on her Catholic faith, to which she converted along with Archie and the rest of their family in June. According to the Guardian, Hollie said: 

“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?”

First appeal

The case was approved for appeal and went back into court on July 15. After reviewing the evidence, Mr Justice Hayden called Archie’s circumstances a “tragedy of immeasurable dimensions,” but he found that he had to agree with the diagnosis that Archie is “brain stem dead” with no hope of recovery. The court once again stated that “continuing treatment is futile,” and that maintaining Archie through life support “serves only to protract his death.” 

Mr. Justice Hayden said in his ruling

“Archie’s mother described him as a fighter and I have no doubt he was,” he said. “But the fight, if it can properly be characterized 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.”

The judge concluded that Archie has “no hope of recovery,” and reiterated the previous ruling that the Royal London Hospital could legally remove Archie’s life support. Archie’s parents, however, are still unconvinced, they left the appeal vowing to appeal again. Paul Battersbee commented

“There have been too many battles in too short a space of time.” Paul said while leaving the court, “He needs more time. We’ll try to appeal. Who knows?”

Second appeal

The battles have been many, but they are not slowing down for Archie’s family. Now they are preparing to return to court on Thursday, July 21, where they will seek to convince a new judge that Archie is not beyond help. 

Hollie Dance has stated that she will appeal as many times as necessary to save Archie, or at least give him more time to recover. Outside the first appeal, she called the upheld decision a “crushing blow” and questioned the dignity that such a death would offer Archie.

“The planned removal of the ventilator is definitely the worst thing that may happen from my point of view. I cannot see how this is in any way dignified,” she said.

Read more at BBC.

Tags:
BioethicsMedicineUnited Kingdom
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