Doctors can lawfully stop providing life-support treatment to a 12-year-old boy left in a comatose state after suffering “catastrophic” brain damage three months ago, appeal judges have ruled.
Three judges delivered a ruling on Monday at a Court of Appeal hearing in London about what moves were in Archie Battersbee’s best interests.
Sir Andrew McFarlane, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson considered arguments at a hearing last week.
Archie’s parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, of Southend, Essex, had mounted an appeal bid after a High Court judge ruled that doctors could lawfully stop treatment.
Appeal judges dismissed their attempt to overturn Mr Justice Hayden’s decision,
Ms Dance wanted appeal judges to adjourn their ruling.
She said she had seen indications that Archie, who is attached to a ventilator, had twice tried to breathe for himself in the last few days.
Judges were also told that Paul Battersbee had been taken ill outside court before the start of the hearing.
Barrister Edward Devereux QC, leading the legal team for Archie’s parents, asked for the ruling to be adjourned.
He told judges that Mr Battersbee, who is in his 50s, had been taken to hospital and was feared to have suffered a heart attack or stroke.
But appeal judges refused to adjourn the ruling.
Mr Justice Hayden delivered a ruling recently after reviewing evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
He described what had happened to Archie as a “tragedy of immeasurable dimensions”, but said medical evidence was “compelling and unanimous” and painted a “bleak” picture.
Archie’s parents, who are separated, said the judge made errors and wanted the appeal court to remit the case to another High Court judge for another hearing.
Judges heard how medical evidence shows Archie is in a “comatose state”.
Mr Devereux had argued at the appeal hearing that Mr Justice Hayden had not given “real or proper weight” to Archie’s previously expressed wishes and religious beliefs; not given “real or proper weight” to Archie’s family’s wishes; failed to carry out a “comprehensive evaluation” of the benefits and burdens of continuing life-support treatment; and had been wrong to conclude that treatment was burdensome and futile.
Judges heard that Ms Dance found Archie unconscious with a ligature over his head on April 7.
She thinks he might have been taking part in an online challenge.
The youngster has not regained consciousness.
Doctors treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, think he is brain-stem dead and say continued life-support treatment is not in his best interests.
Bosses at the hospital’s governing trust, Barts Health NHS Trust, had asked for decisions on what medical moves were in Archie’s best interests.
Another High Court judge, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, initially considered the case and concluded that Archie was dead.
But Court of Appeal judges upheld a challenge by his parents against decisions taken by Mrs Justice Arbuthnot and said the evidence should be reviewed by Mr Justice Hayden.