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NewsArchie's final hours: 'Brain dead' 12-year-old's life support WILL...

Archie’s final hours: ‘Brain dead’ 12-year-old’s life support WILL be switched off TODAY

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The family of Archie Battersbee have spent a ‘precious’ final night with him as his life-sustaining treatment is set to be withdrawn this morning.

After a weeks-long battle, all legal options have now been exhausted, leaving the family ‘devastated’, a spokesperson for campaign group Christian Concern said.

The 12-year-old has been in a coma since he was found unconscious by his mother in April and is being kept alive by a combination of medical interventions, including ventilation and drug treatments, at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London.

Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said last night she is ‘broken’, but has done everything she promised Archie she would do in her fight to give him more time.

In an emotional interview with Sky News, she said: ‘The last however many weeks since 7th April, I don’t think there’s been a day that hasn’t been awful really.

‘It’s been really hard. Despite the hard strong face and appearance obviously in front of the cameras up until now, I’ve been pretty broken.’

Meanwhile floral and candle tributes are beginning to be left outside the Royal London Hospital in dedication to Archie. Family friends and supporters of the family’s campaign are gathering in solidarity outside its entrance. 

The devastated family lost their latest legal bid to have him transferred from hospital to a hospice to die peacefully and tried to continue their efforts.

Archie’s parents applied to the Court of Appeal on Friday, after losing a High Court bid to have him moved to a hospice before his life-sustaining treatment is withdrawn.

The Court of Appeal confirmed yesterday shortly after 6.30pm that permission to appeal had been refused.

Barts Health NHS Trust said previously that no changes will be made to Archie’s care ‘until the outstanding legal issues are resolved’ – which is now believed to be the case.

The family’s bid to have him transferred to a hospice came after a long-running legal battle over the withdrawal of treatment, which ultimately failed on Wednesday when the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene.

In a ruling at the High Court on Friday morning (August 5) Mrs Justice Theis concluded it was not in Archie’s best interests to be moved from Royal London Hospital, as it could hasten his deterioration. 

In the same case, she ruled that the supply of palliative oxygen, which is used to boost oxygen levels in breathless patients, ‘should be left to the clinical team on the ground.’

She added: ‘Sadly, the evidence points to it being unlikely he will breathe once treatment is withdrawn due his severely compromised medical position and the extent of his injuries.’

Archie Battersbee, of Southend-On-Sea, Essex, suffered brain damage at home on April 7 and is in coma. Medics say he is 'brain dead'. His loved ones have pledged to 'fight to the end', however they have been told his life-sustaining treatment will be withdrawn from this morning, according to campaign group Christian Concern

Archie Battersbee, of Southend-On-Sea, Essex, suffered brain damage at home on April 7 and is in coma. Medics say he is ‘brain dead’. His loved ones have pledged to ‘fight to the end’, however they have been told his life-sustaining treatment will be withdrawn from this morning, according to campaign group Christian Concern

His mother Hollie Dance (pictured) said she wanted her son to 'spend his last moments' together with family privately, complaining of a lack of privacy at the hospital

His mother Hollie Dance (pictured) said she wanted her son to ‘spend his last moments’ together with family privately, complaining of a lack of privacy at the hospital

Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, said: ‘I know I’ve done a very good job being Archie’s mum. Based on my own childhood I was determined to be as good as a mother as I can possibly be and I feel like I have done that to the very best of my ability. It’s one of the reasons I am here.’

She continued: ‘All I have ever asked is to get him to six months – where is the harm in that for them? They have spent a fortune on legal fees fighting me in court – money they could have spent on Archie’s care and others’.’

‘There has been a lot of focus on Archie’s dignity, and I passionately believe that the most dignified death for him would be away from the machines and noise of a hospital ward,’ she told me. 

‘At its heart this has been a case about a mother’s love, but also their rights. At what point did Archie’s dad and I lose our parental rights in terms of deciding what we want for our child?’

After the update from the Court of Appeal, campaign group Christian Concern – which is supporting the family – said Archie’s legal team applied to the European court again. 

They challenged the High Court ruling made on Friday morning, arguing that there has been a violation of articles six and eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, the group said. 

Article six is the right to a fair trial and article eight is the right to respect for private and family life. 

The family had sought permission in the UK to challenge Mrs Justice Theis’s ruling but the Court of Appeal judges considering the application concluded the High Court judge had dealt ‘comprehensively with each of the points raised on behalf of the parents’. 

The Court of Appeal judges said they had ‘reached the clear conclusion that each of her decisions was right for the reasons she gave’. 

They added: ‘It follows that the proposed appeal has no prospect of success and there is no other compelling reason for the Court of Appeal to hear an appeal.’ 

The Court of Appeal judges also said one of the arguments presented by Archie’s parents was ‘flawed legally’, adding: ‘It is also not easy to understand as it seeks to argue that Archie’s best interests have ceased to be relevant.’ 

A shattering week for Archie’s family… as the legal fight reaches its final hours 

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.

Tuesday  

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.

Wednesday

9am: Archie’s family apply to the ECHR 

10am: Barts NHS trust delay removing life support at 11am

6:30pm: The European Court of Human Rights rejected a last-ditch bid to save the youngsters life and said it ‘would not interfere’ with the decisions of UK courts that life-support treatment should be withdrawn from the 12-year-old.

Thursday

9am: The family make an application to the High Court in to move the 12-year-old from Royal London Hospital to a hospice to die.

3.30pm: The High Court hear the last-ditch appeal from Archie’s family and supporters to have him moved.

Friday 

11.30am: A senior judge rules against Archie’s parents’ wish to have him moved to a hospice and urges them to let him go ‘peacefully’.

2pm: The family lodge an appeal to the Court of Appeal 

6:30pm:  The Court of Appeal confirmed permission to appeal had been refused.

Evening: The European Court of Human Rights said it will take no action on the case

Saturday

Life-sustaining treatment is expected to be withdrawn

 

Doctors treating the schoolboy for the last four months declared Archie to be ‘brain-stem dead’, prompting a lengthy but ultimately failed legal battle by his family to continue his life support treatment in the hope he would recover.

Hollie and Paul, Archie’s father, described the pressure of the legal battle as ‘immense’.

Hollie added: ‘Time after time we have been told at the last minute that we have until 9am the following day to sort our submissions. It has been very difficult. 

‘All the way through I haven’t had a chance to process everything that has happened. 

‘All I have known is that I can’t let my guard down and break down emotionally because the second I do that I won’t have the strength to fight for my little boy.’

Archie’s mother, Hollie Dance, has said that doctors in Japan and Italy had offered to treat her son.

‘If this country can’t treat him or is not willing to treat him, where’s the harm in allowing him to go to another country?’ she told reporters.

Hollie Dance, who has vowed to give her dying son mouth-to-mouth if doctors deny him oxygen after withdrawing life support, said: ‘All our wishes as a family have been denied by the authorities. We are broken, but we are keeping going, because we love Archie and refuse to give up on him.’ 

His doctors believe that Archie’s condition is too unstable for a transfer and that moving him by ambulance to a different setting ‘would most likely hasten the premature deterioration the family wish to avoid, even with full intensive care equipment and staff on the journey’.  

Mrs Justice Theis agreed with medics on Friday and said: ‘He should remain at the hospital… I hope now Archie can be afforded the opportunity to die in peaceful circumstances, with the family who meant so much to him, as he clearly does to them.’ 

In her ruling, the judge also refused the parents’ application for a new expert to give an assessment of the risks of transfer to a hospice, adding that she understood ‘the enormity of what lays ahead for Archie’s parents and the family’ and that ‘their unconditional love and dedication to Archie is a golden thread that runs through this case’.

Archie’s loved ones had pledged to ‘fight to the end’ with their last-minute bid to have him transferred to die in a hospice ‘with dignity’ – with one centre already prepared to take in the boy if it is granted permission to do so, according to a family spokesperson. 

But they have now reached the end of the line after the Court of Appeal refused to hear an appeal against Friday’s hospice ruling.

Ms Dance, 46, believes he was taking part in an online challenge at the time he became ill. He has not regained consciousness since. 

Ms Dance said she wanted her son to ‘spend his last moments’ together with family privately, complaining of a lack of privacy at the hospital. 

She told Times Radio on Thursday: ‘We can’t even have the chance to be in a room together as a family without nurses.’ 

She added: ‘There’s absolutely no privacy, which is why, again, the courts keep going on about this dignified death – why aren’t we allowed to take our child to a hospice and spend his last moments, his last days together privately? 

‘Why is the hospital obstructing it?’ 

A High Court order made in July requires that Archie remains at the Royal London Hospital while his treatment is withdrawn, a ruling which was ultimately upheld yesterday.

Doctors have been given permission to turn off Archie's life support machine, but his parents have been fighting to keep him alive. Pictured is Archie in hospital

Doctors have been given permission to turn off Archie’s life support machine, but his parents have been fighting to keep him alive. Pictured is Archie in hospital

The case is the latest in a series that have pitted parents against Britain’s court and healthcare systems.

After a highly charged battle between the hospital and his parents, 23-month-old Alfie Evans died in April 2018 when doctors in Liverpool, in northwestern England, withdrew life support.

His parents, who had the support of Pope Francis, wanted to take him to a clinic in Rome but lost a final court appeal just days before he died.

Charlie Gard, born in August 2016 with a rare form of mitochondrial disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, died one week short of his first birthday after doctors withdrew life support.

His parents had fought a five-month legal battle for him to be taken to the United States for experimental treatment.

His case drew broad sympathy, including from then US president Donald Trump and Pope Francis, while 350,000 people signed a petition demanding he be allowed to go to the United States.

Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital where Archie resides, had told his devastated family members it would remove mechanical intervention at 11am on Thursday after the European Court of Human Rights refused an 11th-hour application to continue treatment the night before. 

The Strasbourg court said the appeal was ‘inadmissible’, adding that it would grant such requests only ‘on an exceptional basis’ when ‘the applicants would otherwise face a real risk of irreversible harm’. 

In the aftermath Ms Dance admitted a ‘dignified passing at a hospice’ was all she had left to fight for, but the hospital trust said it would fight to stop him leaving the hospital as his condition is too unstable to be moved.

The NHS trust gave Archie’s family a 9am deadline to appeal, and the case returned to the High Court one last time yesterday afternoon in front of Mrs Justice Theis.

Asked what the last ditch attempt was going to be like, Ms Dance grew tearful and said: ‘It’s going be awful today.

‘I woke up absolutely sick to my stomach. Like I just feel this hospital have so much to answer for and I don’t really know what else to say today.’

In a statement Ms Dance said: ‘If Archie is denied oxygen if and when life-support is removed I will continue to give him oxygen.

‘I pray that the High Court will do the right thing. If they refuse permission for us to take him to a hospice and for him to receive palliative oxygen it will simply be inhumane and nothing about Archie’s ‘dignity’.

‘The whole system has been stacked against us.

‘Reform must now come through Charlie’s Law so that no parents have to go through this. We will fight to the end for Archie’s right to live.’

Archie Battersbee's heartbroken mother Hollie Dance outside the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London. The family are now fighting to move him to a hospice

Archie Battersbee’s heartbroken mother Hollie Dance outside the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London. The family are now fighting to move him to a hospice

Archie has not regained consciousness after he was found unresponsive with a ligature around his neck at his home in Southend, Essex on April 7. He is thought to have been taking part in a social media challenge

Archie has not regained consciousness after he was found unresponsive with a ligature around his neck at his home in Southend, Essex on April 7. He is thought to have been taking part in a social media challenge

Archie has not regained consciousness after he was found unresponsive with a ligature around his neck at his home

Hollie Dance, mother of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, with an unidentified man, speaks to the media outside the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London, after the European Court of Human Rights refused an application to postpone the withdrawal of his life support

Hollie Dance, mother of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee, with an unidentified man, speaks to the media outside the Royal London hospital in Whitechapel, east London, after the European Court of Human Rights refused an application to postpone the withdrawal of his life support

The defiant words came after she appeared outside hospital Wednesday night and described the rejection of her bid to postpone the withdrawal of her son’s life support as ‘another heart-breaking development’ after European judges rejected her last-minute bid to intervene and save her son’s life.

‘It’s the end,’ she told reporters. Fighting back tears, she said: ‘It was the last thing, wasn’t it? And again our country have failed a 12-year-old child.

Attorney General Suella Braverman backs ‘thorough’ judges who have backed Archie’s doctors over his family

Attorney General Suella Braverman said the Archie Battersbee case was an ‘incredibly heartbreaking situation’ but insisted parents had sufficient legal rights and the courts would have looked at the issues ‘incredibly thoroughly’.

She told Sky News: ‘I must just put on record my deepest sympathies for the family of Archie Battersbee, I cannot begin to imagine what he and his family have been going through.’

She added: ‘I think generally, yes, parents do have sufficient rights. The legal presumption is that parents are acting in the best interest of their children until or unless proved otherwise.’

But ‘in highly complex – both legally and morally – issues like these ones’ there were competing factors such as medical opinion.

‘That has to be weighed against the parents wishes as well, and many other factors in in these cases.

‘These are not straightforward. They’re highly, highly complex matters involving detailed issues of medicine, and medical ethics, as well as the child’s welfare.

‘And I have confidence that our courts and our judges will have looked at these issues incredibly thoroughly, incredibly sensitively, and have reached the right decision.’

‘I would like him out of here as quick as possible, and in a peaceful hospice to say goodbye and spend time with his family, uninterrupted by the noise and chaos’. 

A spokeswoman for the family added: ‘We think it is completely barbaric and absolutely disgusting that we’re not even allowed to choose where Archie takes his last moments.

‘Hospices are well and truly designed for palliative and respite care. Archie is now obviously on palliative care so there is no reason whatsoever for him not to take his last moments at a hospice. The hospice has said that they will take him.’

Ms Dance previously accused the UK of treating her son’s injury as ‘black and white’ and alleged that the wrong MRI scan may have been submitted to the courts during proceedings.

Speaking to Times Radio, Archie’s mother said: ‘Although Archie’s got 10% necrosis of the brain stem, it’s 5% of the overall brain and although the necrosis is not reversible, the 5% damage to the whole brain is reversible.

‘It’s going to come out in the future, and obviously we haven’t had a chance to put none of this forward in the court because we’ve been blocked from speaking.

‘But there’s strong, strong doubts that the MRI imaging that was put across into the court was actually Archie’s MRI. The MRI that was put forward had nine bottom teeth – Archie’s got 12. So there’s lots of things that the court hasn’t had the chance to look at because we haven’t been allowed to put any.’ 

Alistair Chesser – the Chief Medical Officer for Barts Health NHS Trust – previously told MailOnline they will ‘work with the family to prepare the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment’. 

Mr Chesser said: ‘Our deepest sympathies remain with Archie’s family and we aim to provide the best possible support to everyone at this difficult time. 

‘As directed by the courts, we will work with the family to prepare for the withdrawal of treatment, but we will make no changes to Archie’s care until the outstanding legal issues are resolved.’ 

Is brain stem death the same as being in a vegetative state? And what are the chances of recovery?

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. 

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