Boy who suffered brain damage in incident at home at centre of court dispute
A 12-year-old boy who has not regained consciousness after suffering brain damage in an incident at home nearly a month ago is at the centre of a High Court treatment dispute.
Specialists treating Archie Battersbee, of Southend, Essex, think it “highly likely” the youngster is dead, and say life-support treatment should stop.
His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, have raised concerns about doctors’ proposals.
Hospital bosses want a judge based in the Family Division of the High Court in London to decide what moves are in Archie’s best interests.
A judge began considering the case at a private hearing last week, and ruled that no-one involved could be identified in media reports of the case.
Mrs Justice Morgan on Wednesday relaxed those reporting restrictions after hearing arguments from lawyers representing hospital bosses, Archie’s parents and a journalist, and said the youngster could be named.
A judge is due to oversee a further hearing on May 12.
Miss Dance, 46, last week told the PA news agency she thought Archie might have been taking part in a “online challenge” when he was hurt.
She said she found him with a ligature over his head on April 7.
“We initially thought that it was a freak accident but now I’m wondering whether it could be some sort of online challenge,” she said.
“Someone got in touch with me to say they’d heard of boys putting ligatures over their head as part of an online challenge.
“It may not be but I’m not ruling it out.”
Miss Dance, a former dance teacher, had said Archie, a keen gymnast, was in a coma in hospital.
She said an online appeal had been started to raise funds for treatment and she had been overwhelmed by the support the family had received.
Miss Dance said more than £11,000 had been donated and people could see the online appeal at www.gofundme.com/f/just-for-archie.
Anna Firth, Conservative MP for Southend West, is supporting Archie’s family.
Mrs Justice Morgan was told on Wednesday that Archie was being cared for at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.
Barrister Fiona Paterson, who represented the hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, told the judge Archie had never regained consciousness and was dependent on mechanical ventilation.
“His treating team consider it highly likely that he is, in fact, brain-stem dead,” she said in a written case outline.
“Even if Archie is not brain-stem dead, his treating team consider that it is highly unlikely that he will ever recover consciousness and consequently it is in his best interests that his mechanical ventilation be withdrawn.”
Bruno Quintavalle, who represented Archie’s parents, raised a number of concerns.
He said Archie’s parents were concerned that a “brain-stem” test proposed by treating specialists was “not one” which could “reliably lead to a determination of death”.
Mr Quintavalle said Archie’s parents were also worried that swelling in the youngster’s brain had not been treated.
He added in a written case outline: “The parents believe that they will be able to come to an agreement with the hospital as to the best way forward…”
Mrs Justice Morgan described Archie’s case as “unbelievably tragic” and said she hoped a resolution could be found.
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