Parents of boy wait for ruling on latest stage of life-support treatment fight
The 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-support treatment fight.
Doctors treating Archie Battersbee say continued treatment is not in his best interests and should end.
Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee – from Southend in Essex, disagree.
Mr Justice Hayden on Monday reviewed evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
He said he aimed to deliver a ruling, about what moves are in Archie’s best interests, on Friday.
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 had urged Mr Justice Hayden to let Archie die a natural death.
She said her son would want treatment to continue.
Ms Dance told the judge that Archie was a “fighter by nature” and said she was “his voice”.
Ms Dance told Mr Justice Hayden on Monday that she was “100%” sure Archie would want treatment to continue.
“I think we come into this world naturally,” she told the judge.
“Let nature take its course.”
She added: “If it is God’s will and Archie wants to give up, then let nature take its course.”
Ms Dance said Archie was a “natural-born fighter”.
“If Archie gives up fighting his illness and dies, I can accept that,” she said.
“But if we switch off the ventilator, knowing that Archie will die, I cannot agree to that.”
She said: “That little boy is fighting in my opinion. He cannot talk, he is unconscious. I am his voice. I am going to fight for him until Archie decides I can stop fighting.”
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, have told judges how they think he is “brain-stem dead” and say continued life support treatment is not in his best interests.
Lawyers representing the Royal London Hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, have asked for decisions on what moves are in Archie’s best interests.
Ms Dance told the judge, in a written witness statement, that everything about Archie’s personality showed that he was “a fighter, not a quitter”.
“I respect the medical professionals’ opinions, but those are opinions, not facts,” she added.
“The doctors in this hospital have been mistaken about a number of things.
“I am not saying this to criticise them, but it really undermines trust when some of the doctors then proceed to impose their opinions on us, in a high-handed way, without discussion and as if nothing had happened.”
She went on: “He is not in pain, he is not suffering, and there is still a possibility, however small, that he may survive and get better.
“If he only survives with a severe disability, I am happy to spend my life caring for him.
“If he is going to die, I (and the rest of the family) want his death to be a natural death.
“What we are strongly opposed to is a ‘planned’ death resulting from the act of taking him off the ventilator.”
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 mother has 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.
He has not regained consciousness.