Listen to this story:
LEICESTER, United Kingdom – A family has vowed to appeal a court decision to remove life support from a 12-year-old boy, who has been on a ventilator since April.
Archie Battersbee was found unconscious by his mother on April 7. He had a ligature around his head, and his family believes he may have been taking part in an online challenge when the tragedy happened.
The child’s doctors at the Royal London Hospital want to remove Archie’s life support, claiming he is brain dead. On Monday, the High Court ruled that “on the balance of probabilities,” Archie had died, basing the decision on the results of an MRI test.
The case is reminiscent of those of Charlie Gard in 2017 and Alfie Evans in 2018: In both cases British courts ruled against parents trying to take their child abroad for further treatment against the judgement of hospital staff. Both children later died.
“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,” said Hollie Dance, Archie’s mother.
“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,” she continued.
“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. I feel sickened that the hospital and the Judge have failed to take the wishes of the family into consideration,” Dance added.
Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, called the ruling “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,” Williams said.
The Christian Legal Centre is supporting the family in the court battle.
Dance said she does not believe that Archie has been given enough time to recover.
“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,” she said.
“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,” Dance said.
Before his accident, Archie had expressed interest in becoming Catholic, and was baptized in the hospital on Easter Sunday. Dance and other members of the family were baptized the next day.
Follow Charles Collins on Twitter: @CharlesinRome