Archie Battersbee: Life support to be switched off for boy brain damaged in social media ‘blackout’ challenge

Doctors treating UK boy Archie Battersbee are set to withdraw his life support – unless the Supreme Court agrees a dramatic last-minute intervention.

The 12-year-old, who has been in a coma since April, could be taken off his ventilator at noon after the Court of Appeal ruled continuing life support was not in his best interests.

A panel of three judges rejected a plea from his parents to keep Archie alive until his case could be considered by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but said the family could ask the Supreme Court to intervene.

Archie’s mother Hollie Dance said they would take the case to the Supreme Court, which previously refused them permission to appeal.

Speaking outside the Royal London Hospital, Miss Dance said: “We made a promise to Archie, we will fight to the end. And Archie’s still fighting.”

Camera IconArchie Battersbee suffered catastrophic brain damage after taking part in a social media “blackout” challenge.  Credit: Hollie Dance/PA

Last night there was no word from the Supreme Court over whether judges had agreed to accept the family’s case, meaning any decision over Archie’s fate could come at the 11th hour.

If the court agrees to hear the case then doctors will be ordered to keep him on life support until judges have reached a decision.

Archie, an aspiring Olympic gymnast, was fit and healthy until April this year, when he was found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex.

His mother believes he had been taking part in a social media “blackout’ challenge.

He suffered catastrophic brain damage and has never regained consciousness.

The mother of Archie Battersbee, Hollie Dance, centre, speaks to the media outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, on July 25, 2022. A British court is holding an emergency hearing on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, to determine whether a hospital can end life-support treatment for a 12-year-old boy who has suffered catastrophic brain damage.The parents of Archie Battersbee are fighting the decision but have lost a series of court challenges. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)
Camera IconThe mother of Archie Battersbee, Hollie Dance, centre, took the battle to keep her son alive to court. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/AP

Doctors say his brain stem is dead, meaning he will not recover.

Lawyers for the NHS hospital trust had asked the High Court to rule he was effectively dead and that all treatment should be withdrawn.

But his parents have fought a legal battle, insisting their child is still alive and should be given longer to show signs of recovery, or to die a ‘natural’ death.

Undated family handout file photo of Archie Battersbee. The 12-year-old boy left in a comatose state after suffering brain damage is set to have his support treatment ended on Monday, despite his mother's pleas to the Government. Barts Health NHS Trust, which is caring for Archie, said in a letter to his parents that "all fluid infusions, medications, including vasopressin will be stopped" at 2pm on August 1. Issue date: Sunday July 31, 2022.. See PA story COURTS Archie. Photo credit should read: Hollie Dance/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Camera IconArchie’s parents believe he should be given longer to show signs of recovery, or to die a “natural” death.  Credit: Hollie Dance/PA

Miss Dance, who is separated from Archie’s father, said it would amount to “extraordinary cruelty” to end his life support.

Lawyers for the family have argued Archie’s condition is stable and he cannot feel pain.

The UN committee told the Government on Friday that it wanted to consider the case.

But Fiona Paterson, a lawyer for the Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, said the UN request was not legally binding.

She said it was not in Archie’s best interests to keep him alive and his condition could deteriorate at any time.

The trust’s chief medical officer Alistair Chesser said “our heartfelt sympathies’ were with Archie’s family. But he added: “We will prepare to withdraw treatment after midday unless directed otherwise.”

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