- A 12-year-old boy has been declared “brain dead” by doctors in the UK.
- His mother is fighting the legal system, which has decided to take him off life support.
- She told Insider that she would “never give up” on her boy.
A week after Archie Battersbee was found unconscious with a belt around his neck, the 12-year-old was set to fight in his first martial arts competition.
The energetic tween had chosen the famous Biggie song “Hypnotize” as the tune that marked his entrance into the ring.
Now, four months after the match was due to take place, his mother Hollie Dance has been playing the 1997 hit in the desperate hope that Archie will respond to his favorite rap song as he lies in a coma in hospital.
“We’re doing everything we can,” Dance told Insider, adding that the young MMA fan is “fighting to survive.”
But Dance is in the middle of a battle of her own. The 46-year-old mother from Southend-on-sea, England, is at the center of a legal battle with the British justice system, which has ruled that Archie should be taken off life support and no longer receive treatment. .
Doctors have said Archie is brain dead, but Dance believes her son is showing signs of life such as breathing on his own and squeezing her hand.
She said specialists have described the hand movements as a “reflex” but she is convinced there is hope for Archie and he needs “time to heal.”
The case has made headlines around the world. The fate of the gifted gymnast has contributed to the ongoing right-to-life debate.
“It’s legalized killing children,” Dance said. “It’s disgusting and no parent should be put in this terrible situation.”
The mother-of-three – along with Archie’s father, Paul Battersbee, 57, from whom she is separated – learned on Monday that the Court of Appeal in London had upheld the decision of a lower court judge who had ruled that doctors could legally stop treating Archie.
Planning to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights
Following the decision by the Court of Appeal judges, Dance and her supporters plan to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights after the same panel prevented them from going to the United Nations.
Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs the hospital where Archie is on a ventilator, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an earlier statement, the chief medical officer at Barts said the hospital’s “thoughts and sympathies” were with the family.
Dance said she discovered Archie hanging from the banister upstairs in their home on April 7, in what she calls a “freak accident.” She believes he participated in an online challenge to briefly black out before regaining consciousness.
She told Insider that he had used the cord of a dressing gown to try to strangle himself.
Dance said she ran out of the house screaming when she found Archie, and a neighbor called an ambulance. They managed to loosen the ligature around Archie’s neck and he was given CPR by the first responders.
The boy was assessed by doctors at his hometown hospital before being transferred to the larger Royal London Hospital.
She said the medical team told her the next day that she had “time to get the family up to say goodbye”, then they would remove Archie from the ventilator and have a “conversation about organ donation”.
Dance refused to allow doctors to perform brain stem tests on her son
“It literally happened in two minutes,” Dance told Insider of the doctors’ reaction. “There was no compassion, no empathy.”
Dance told doctors she did not want him taken off the ventilator. She believes doctors jumped to the conclusion that Archie was brain dead and made a series of unfair judgments while overseeing his care, and has argued this in her case.
“They do absolutely nothing for him,” she said.
Three weeks later, after Dance and her family refused to allow doctors to carry out brainstem testing on Archie, the trust that runs the hospital launched legal proceedings.
A judge agreed with the trust, but the tests could not be carried out because Archie did not respond to a formal pre-brain stem test. Dance then went on to lose a court battle over whether her son should have an MRI. On June 13, the High Court judge reviewed the scans and ruled that Archie was “dead”.
“There’s been setback after setback,” Dance said.
The fight has continued, with more than a dozen hearings leading to Monday’s ruling to uphold the decision to withdraw life support. Dance said she would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in the hope that Archie’s care can continue.
The family hopes a doctor in the US can take on Archie’s case
“I’ve read miracle stories of people in America and around the world showing signs of recovery and awakening,” Dance told Insider. She added that Archie should be given more “chance”. She said the handshakes were positive signals. While she said “there are more days when he doesn’t than when he does,” she said the family will continue to fight for his “right to live.”
Meanwhile, Dance said they are trying to get Archie to answer them.
She said they have tried to stimulate him by playing rap music in his hospital room, putting scented oils under his nose and putting honey on his tongue. They have also lit flashlights, she said, to perform “eye exercises”.
“I’m just keeping things going, so to speak,” the mother told Insider.
She is also exploring the possibility of moving Archie to the United States where he can “get the treatment he needs,” she said. Dance and her supporters have set up a GoFundMe to help with the costs of lawyers and Archie’s care.
The mother said she is doing everything in her power to save her son. “It’s so important that I stay together and stay strong for Archie,” she said.