Archie’s final hours: Family of ‘brain dead’ 12-year-old hold bedside vigil playing his favourite music and television shows before life support is set to be turned off at 11am TODAY – as they cling on to one last chance of saving him
- Archie Battersbee’s life support is due to be removed by Barts Health NHS Trust at 11am this morning
- The 12-year-old’s family spent the night holding a vigil by his bedside in Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel
- They played his favourite music and television shows, and personal messages to him from boxing stars
- Barts Health Trust has told Archie’s family that he cannot be moved into hospice care for his final hours
- Yesterday three judges refused an application by the 12-year-old’s parents Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee
- His parents want to make an urgent application to the European Convention on Human Rights at 9am
Archie Battersbee’s life support will be removed at 11am this morning unless his family can appeal again to the European Court of Human Rights, having spent the night holding a vigil by his bedside.
The 12-year-old suffered catastrophic brain damage after an accident at home in April, and has been in a deep coma, with doctors reporting that his brain stem is dead — meaning he will not recover.
His heartbroken parents Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee yesterday lost their Supreme Court bid to stop doctors removing him from the ventilator and drug treatments which have kept him alive for months.
The family is maintaining a vigil at Archie’s bedside in the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, East London. They spent the night playing his favourite music and television shows, his sister-in-law, Ella Carter said.
Archie, who was a keen martial arts fighter and aspiring Olympic gymnast, was also played messages sent to him by boxing stars, during what could be his final hours.
‘They’re constantly talking to him and telling him what’s been going on with the family and his friends,’ Ms Carter added.
Archie’s family will be making an urgent application to the European Convention on Human Rights this morning, but with just two hours to do this before the life support is removed, his mother says they have ‘no time at all’.
‘Our solicitors will be filing to the European Court of Human Rights. They’ve been given a strict timeline of 9am. Again, no time whatsoever,’ his mother Ms Dance said.
‘Every single court case we’ve had we’ve had no time at all, one or two days to prepare and get the whole case together.’
If this application fails, Archie’s immediate family will be left saying goodbye to their son at his bedside.
His parents, who are separated, and siblings Lauren, Tom, Jed, Sam and Ben will be able to hold Archie in their arms or lie on the bed next to him the ventilator is removed.
Archie Battersbee’s life support will be removed at 11am this morning unless his family can appeal again to the European Court of Human Rights, having spent the night holding a vigil by his bedside. Pictured, his family outside the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel yesterday
Doctors have been given permission to turn off Archie’s life support machine, but his parents are trying to continue the fight to keep him alive. Pictured is Archie in hospital
Paul Battersbee and Hollie Dance have confirmed that their legal team will be submitting another application to the European Court of Human Rights by 9am. Pictured outside the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London
Ms Dance said that she wanted Archie to have a dignified death and be moved to a hospice for his final hours, however this was denied by Barts Health NHS Trust.
‘We’ve asked very nicely, in a very nice manner, “Can we take Archie to a hospice?”,’ she said.
‘I think it’s every parent’s right to be able to take your child out of a very loud hospital for a peaceful, dignified – as they call it – a dignified death, which is what all these court cases are about, apparently, Archie’s dignity.
‘Well, where’s Archie’s dignity and his rights now? He’s not even allowed a peaceful death at a hospice.
‘So, our solicitor’s words were: “They’ve been very brutal and they refused a hospice”.’
Ms Carter echoed the desire for Archie to be moved to a ‘calm’ hospice so that the family could say goodbye to Archie in less ‘chaotic’ environment.
She said that ‘seven or eight’ security guards around his room did not create a peaceful atmosphere.
Speaking yesterday, she said: ‘If this is Archie’s last couple of days it needs to be peaceful and it needs to be a calm atmosphere, and it’s the complete opposite really.
‘We would really like it to be in a hospice – I mean that’s exactly what they’re designed for, they’re so well-equipped to deal with situations like this.’
Ms Dance added: ‘We are having to battle over every decision with the hospital.
‘There is nothing dignified in how we are being treated as a family in this situation. We do not understand what the rush is and why all of our wishes are being denied.’
She added: ‘I know Archie’s still with us. Archie’s showing very different signs to what the clinicians are actually putting over to the courts. He’s very much there, he’s progressing in so many ways.’
Archie, of Southend-On-Sea, Essex, suffered brain damage at home on April 7 and is in coma. Medics say he is ‘brain dead’
Archie has not regained consciousness after he was found unresponsive with a ligature around his neck at his home
‘Legally we’re exploring one more option this evening but this really is sort of the end,’ his mother Ms Dance told Sky News
Friends of Archie Battersbee’s family (left to right) Jeanette Baldwin, Ella Carter and Kelly Elliott. Ms Carter said the family held a vigil at Archie’s bed overnight
A shattering week for Archie’s family
Friday – Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee apply to the UN after exhausting all their options in the British courts. In response, the UN asks the government to keep Archie’s ventilator switched on until they had considered his case.
Sunday – The government’s legal department write an urgent matter on behalf of Health Secretary Steve Barclay asking the courts to urgently consider the committee’s request.
Monday – The Court of Appeal refuse to postpone the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment beyond 12pm the following day (today).
Morning: The Supreme Court confirm a last-minute appeal has been lodged.
Afternoon: Three justice reject the appeal, meaning Archie’s life support will now be turned off.
Evening: Trust confirms plan to remove Archie’s life support at 11am tomorrow. Archie’s mother announces their plan to make an urgent application to the European Convention on Human Rights tomorrow at 9am.
Barts Health NHS Trust said it would work with Archie’s family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment.
As part of this, the Trust wrote a letter to his parents on Saturday, encouraging the extended family to visit the 12-year-old over the weekend, as only immediate family will be allowed in the room when his life support is removed.
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said: ‘Our deepest sympathies remain with Archie’s family.
‘As directed by the courts, we will now work with the family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment. We aim to provide the best possible support to everyone at this difficult time.’
Yesterday, a panel of three judges refused an application by the 12-year-old’s parents asking for a halt while a UN committee reviewed their son’s case.
The decision means the family has now exhausted their legal rights of appeal and the hospital will remove Archie from the ventilator and drug treatments today at 11am.
The family have confirmed their legal team will be submitting another application to the European Court of Human Rights by 9am today in a bid to postpone the withdrawal of his life support.
Yesterday, Ms Dance condemned the ‘brutal’ decision to turn off her son’s life support and vowed to ‘fight to the bitter end’.
She called the decision to turn off her son’s life support ‘shameful’ and accused the NHS of ‘executing’ him.
Yesterday evening, Ms Dance told Sky News: ‘It’s been the hospital’s way from the word go, just “push push push, we need this done immediately”.
‘It’s got to be at rapid speed, we actually execute this child — and with the backing of the legal system it’s been very easy for the hospital to do that, and I just think that it’s disgraceful, it’s absolutely shameful.
‘Is that the way forward in this country? We’re allowed to execute children now because they’ve got disabilities? What’s next?
‘I feel very let down by our system. Very disappointed. I did say I would fight on to the bitter end for Archie and as his mum that’s what I’ve done.’
Left: Archie Battersbee with his older brother Tom Summers. Right: Archie with his mother Hollie Dance
Ms Dance kisses her son Archie as he lies in bed in hospital, following an accident at his Essex home in April
Archie with his mother Hollie Dance (left), brother Tom Summers and sister Lauren Summers
Archie Battersbee’s brother Tom Summers kissing Archie on the head in hospital
Ms Dance called for the justice system to be reformed, stating ‘it’s not fair, it’s not right‘.
Sky News reported that Archie’s family said ‘at least three other countries’ have agreed to take their little boy in for treatment.
‘There’s so many options in other countries, why is it this country is so black and white,’ Ms Dance said. ‘You’ve got a brain injury, sorry that its it — it’s the end of the line for you.
‘Other countries offer so much hope and so many different treatments.’
She added: ‘No authorities, other than the UN CRPD have shown any compassion or understanding to us as a family. The government intervention at the last moment feels like a betrayal. We will fight until the end.
‘I can honestly say that Archie would be very, very disappointed in our justice systems.
‘This is somebody’s child … they’re not just taking a child away from me and Paul, they’re destroying the whole family.
‘It’s not right, it’s not right, and something needs to be done – reform desperately needs to be taking place in this country.’
Archie’s doctors insist he is ‘brain dead’. This is different to a ‘vegetative state’ which happens after extensive brain damage, like that suffered by F1 racing legend Michael Schumacher in a catastrophic skiing accident in 2013. It is permanent, meaning the affected person will never regain consciousness or start breathing on their own again. They are legally confirmed as dead, with the time on their death certificate logged when they fail a catalogue of tests.
The NHS says it can be ‘confusing’ because brain dead people can still have a beating heart and their chest will ‘rise and fall with every breath’. However, this is solely down to life support machines — not because the person has miraculously regained the ability to do this themselves.
Occasionally, the limbs and torso can move. But this is simply down to reflexes triggered by nerves in the spine that are not linked with the brain. It does not indicate that the brain is still working. Whereas, it is scientifically possible for someone in a vegetative state to recover. This is because their brain stem, which controls breathing and heartbeat, still functions, meaning they may show signs of being awake — such as being able to open their eyes.
One year after going into a vegetative state, around 43 per cent will regain consciousness, 34 per cent die and 23 per cent are still vegetative. However, those who wake up are often minimally conscious, unable to communicate and have to be fed through a tube. Dozens of people claim to have beaten brain death in the past. Zack Dunlap, a 21-year-old from Oklahoma, told of how he heard doctors tell his family he was brain dead following a scan. But his arm moved while he was being prepared for organ donation. He later woke up, recovered and went home seven weeks later.
But the Neurocritical Care Society, a network of more than 2,000 healthcare workers, says it is impossible. Writing in an FAQ page, it said: ‘If anyone claims to have recovered from brain death, then the diagnosis was incorrect.’
The brain stem is located at the bottom of the brain and controls consciousness, awareness, breathing and the ability to regulate heart and blood pressure. If damaged – through trauma in Archie’s case, or through bleeding, infections or tumours – it swells up but has no room to expand because it is encased inside the skull. This causes pressure to build up, leading to a drop in blood flow to the brain and damage to tissue. This pressure and swelling pushes the brain through a small opening at the base of the skull, which can not always be stopped or reversed.
When the brain stem stops working, it cannot send messages to the body to control any functions and cannot receive messages back from the body. This damage is irreversible. Six tests need to be met before a person can be declared as a brain stem death. These include the pupils not responding to light, having no cough or gag reflex and being unresponsive to pain.
The Christian Legal Centre, which has been supporting the legal action by Archie Battersbee’s parents, has called for changes to the law following Archie’s case.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: ‘What Archie’s case has shown is that systematic reform is needed to protect the vulnerable and their families in end-of-life matters.
‘Legislation must be passed reforming the system. Archie’s case stands in the gap. The precedent his case sets can go an incredibly long way to fixing a system which has no room for error.’
Archie, who has been in a coma since April, was expected to be taken off his ventilator at 12pm yesterday after the Court of Appeal ruled continuing life support was not in his best interests.
But just minutes after his life support was meant to be turned off, the Supreme Court confirmed that a last-minute appeal had been lodged.
Three judges examined an application by the United Nations Commission for the Rights of People of Disability to consider the parents’ complaint, but ruled against the request.
Lord Hodge, the court’s deputy president, sat alongside Lords Kitchin and Stephens – the same panel of Supreme Court justices who rejected an appeal bid by Archie’s parents last week.
Announcing the court’s refusal to hear the appeal, the judges said: ‘As this panel stated in its note of determination last week, the justices have great sympathy with the plight of Archie’s devoted parents who face a circumstance that is every parent’s nightmare – the loss of a much-loved child.
‘It has to be borne in mind that, sadly, the central issue between Archie’s parents on the one hand and the NHS trust, which is supported by Archie’s very experienced guardian, has not been about Archie’s recovery but about the timing and manner of his death.
‘As Sir Andrew MacFarlane recorded in his earlier judgement of July 25, there is no prospect of any meaningful recovery. Even if life-sustaining treatment were to be maintained, Archie would die in the course of the next few weeks through organ failure and then heart failure.
‘The maintenance of the medical regime, as (Mr Justice Hayden) held in his very sympathetic judgement, ”serves only to protract his death”. That conclusion was one which the judge reached only ”with the most profound regret”.’
The Supreme Court’s announcement said that while there was evidence Archie had ‘religious beliefs, was very close to his mother and would not have wished to leave her alone’, these were ‘only some of the factors’ the court had to consider.
Archie was fit and healthy until April this year, when he was found unconscious at home in Southend, Essex, after an accident, which his mother has blamed on an online ‘blackout’ challenge.
He suffered catastrophic brain damage and doctors believe Archie’s condition will deteriorate over the next few weeks, leading to organ and heart failure.
Yesterday, Miss Dance spoke of her determination to continue fighting.
‘I promised Archie I would fight for his life to the end and that’s what I’m doing,’ she told Good Morning Britain.
Ms Dance added: ‘We’re in discussions about moving Archie because we don’t want him to spend his last moments in his hospital.’
She has previously accused Barts NHS Trust of pursuing a ‘choreographed execution’ of her son.
A letter from the NHS Trust to Archie’s parents, which was shared with MailOnline with their permission
Archie was due to have his life-support at the Royal London Hospital in east London ended on Monday at 2pm, after a High Court judge ruled this to be in his best interests and the family exhausted all routes of appeal.
However, the UN committee issued a request to the UK Government last Friday, asking that it ‘refrain from withdrawing life-preserving medical treatment, including mechanical ventilation and artificial nutrition and hydration’ from Archie while his case is under consideration by the committee.
The Government’s legal department then wrote an urgent letter on Sunday on behalf of Health Secretary Steve Barclay, asking the courts to urgently consider the committee’s request.
Sir Andrew McFarlane, sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Moylan, said yesterday: ‘My decision is that, save for granting a short stay until 12 noon tomorrow, the parents’ application for any further stay is dismissed.’
The judge said the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, under which the UN committee made its request, is an ‘unincorporated international treaty’.
He said: ‘It is not part of the law of the United Kingdom … and it is not appropriate for this court to apply an unincorporated international treaty into its decision-making process.’
He added: ‘Every day that (Archie) continues to be given life-sustaining treatment is contrary to his best interests and, so, a stay, even for a short time, is against his best interests.’
In a letter, Archie’s parents Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee plead with Health Secretary Steve Barclay to intervene
The judge said that was the decision that has been taken in the courts of England and Wales.
The judges refused to grant permission to appeal against their ruling at the Supreme Court.
Ms Dance indicated she and Mr Battersbee will make an application to the UK’s highest court.
She said: ‘We continue to be shocked and traumatised by the brutality of the UK courts and the hospital trust.
‘Our wishes as parents continue to be trampled on and ignored. We do not understand the urgency and rush to end life-support.
‘The hospital trust has at no point given us time to come to terms with what has happened.
‘This is no way for a compassionate society to treat a family in our situation. We will continue to fight for Archie.’
The appeal was submitted just after midday yesterday.
The Supreme Court said: ‘The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has today, 2nd August 2022, received a Permission to Appeal (PTA) application in the case of Archie Battersbee.
‘Archie Battersbee is a 12 year old boy who has been in a deep coma since 7 April 2022. His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, wish to challenge the decision to withdraw life–sustaining treatment.
‘They are seeking a stay of the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow withdrawal of life–support treatment from their child.
‘The proposed stay is to allow more time for the United Nations Commission for the Rights of People of Disability consider their complaint that that withdrawal of life–sustaining treatment is a breach of the Convention.
‘The Supreme Court is aware of the urgency of this matter.
‘A panel of three Justices will consider the application for permission to appeal ‘on paper’, in the usual way.’
Alistair Chesser, chief medical officer for Barts Health NHS Trust, said on Monday: ‘Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences remain with Archie’s family at this difficult time.
‘We are following the direction of the courts, so no changes will be made to Archie’s care whilst the family appeal to the Supreme Court, though we will prepare to withdraw treatment after midday tomorrow unless directed otherwise.’
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