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Archie Battersbee’s life support is withdrawn after parents lose legal battle

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: (Published 08 August 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o1973
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

A 12 year old boy with catastrophic brain damage had mechanical ventilation withdrawn on Saturday 6 August after his parents exhausted all possible legal avenues to try to maintain his treatment.

Archie Battersbee’s parents engaged in a long running media and legal campaign to stop Barts Health NHS Trust taking him off the ventilator at the Royal London Hospital, although the courts have consistently ruled that he had no hope of recovery and that stopping the treatment would be in his best interests.

Archie was taken to hospital in April 2022 after he was found unconscious at home with a ligature around his neck. His parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, say they believe he was taking part in a social media challenge.

A formal test of brain stem death proved impossible to carry out because of additional damage to Archie’s peripheral nerves, but doctors concluded that he was brain stem dead. Supported throughout by the Christian Legal Centre, his parents initially won a ruling in the Court of Appeal that the High Court judge Mrs Justice Arbuthnot should not have declared him brain stem dead without a formal test but …

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