The family of Archie Battersbee, a 12-year-old boy who is in a coma after suffering a brain injury, have lost their appeal in the UK Supreme Court to prevent the breathing apparatus that keeps the boy breathing from being turned off by the hospital.
The British Court had already decided that the hospital could turn off the devices from noon (8 am Brasília time) this Tuesday, but the family tried to avoid this result with one more appeal – which was also denied. Doctors at the Royal London Hospital in London, where the boy is hospitalized, told Justice that Archie had suffered devastating brain damage and that it was “highly likely” that he had already suffered brain death – and that turning off the devices was the best option for the boy.
Archie has been hospitalized since he was found unconscious at his home in Southend-on-Sea on April 7. His mother says she believes he was participating in an internet challenge when he became unconscious. He has never woken up since he was admitted and experts say tests have shown no discernible brain activity.
Hollie Dance, the boy’s mother, said the devices that keep Archie alive could be turned off this Wednesday (3) if the family doesn’t file an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights. Earlier she had said that the family “will fight to the end”.
“We want to file an application with the European Court of Human Rights, but the deadline is 9 am, which doesn’t give our lawyers any time to prepare,” Hollie said.
She said she felt that the system for deciding treatment options where there is a dispute between families and hospital administrations “needs dramatic reform.”
The Barts Health NHS Trust, which manages the hospital where Archie is hospitalized, said it would continue to “work with the family to prepare” for the shutdown.
The decision that authorized the shutdown of the devices had been given on July 11 by Judge Hayden. He said, based on medical reports, that continuing treatment would be “futile” and that it would “only serve to prolong his death, being unable to prolong his life.”
Lawyers representing the Barts Health NHS Trust told the judge that Archie suffered “devastating” brain damage. They argued that Archie’s support for braces was “a burden”, “contrary to dignity” and “ethically distressing” for the doctors who treat him.
Archie’s parents argue that the treatment should continue as long as his heart is beating.
Hollie and Archie’s father, Paul Battersbee, were supported by the Christian Legal Center in an attempt to get the devices to be kept in court.
During a three-day hearing last week, experts said clinical tests showed no “discernible” brain activity. Judge Emma Arbuthnot said at the time that she gave “permission to medical professionals at the Royal London Hospital to stop mechanically ventilating Archie Battersbee”.
criticizes me court decision
In a statement released after Judge Arbuthnot’s first ruling, Archie’s mother said she was “devastated and extremely disappointed with the ruling after weeks of fighting a legal battle, when my desire was to be at my son’s bedside.”
“Basing that decision on an MRI test and stating that he is ‘probably’ dead is not enough. This is believed to be the first time that someone has been declared ‘probably’ dead based on an MRI test.”
She said she felt “disgusted” that the hospital and the judge had not taken the family’s wishes into account and added that she doesn’t believe “Archie has had enough time” to recover.
“His heart is still beating, he held my hand and as a mother I know he is still there,” she said. “Until it’s God’s will, I won’t let him go. I’ve heard of miracles where people are brain dead and come back to life.”
But Judge Hayden said the evidence shows that Archie suffered “significant injury” to “multiple areas” of the brain and “did not regain consciousness at any time.”
Judge Arbuthnot said the devotion of Archie’s family was “extraordinary”.
“If Archie remains on life support, sudden death is likely to result, and the prospects for recovery are nil,” she said. “He takes no pleasure in life, and his brain damage is irrecoverable,” Arbuthnot said. According to the judge’s decision, based on MRI records, Archie’s death occurred on May 31.
The situation, according to Arbuthnot, made it impossible for “his dear and beloved family to say goodbye.”
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