Brain-dead child can be unplugged, UK court rules

Archie Battersbee became the subject of litigation after being seriously injured at his home in early April. According to his mother, he took part in an online challenge in which participants deliberately tried to pass out, British media reported. His mother found her son unconscious with a bandage around his head. The child never regained consciousness.

The parents, from Southend, Essex, want Archie’s treatment to continue while his heart is still beating, while doctors at the Royal London Hospital believe he should be unplugged. The hospital’s governing body then asked the court what was best for the child. The judge has now authorized the cessation of treatment.

“If Archie remains on a ventilator, the likely outcome for him is sudden death and the prospects for recovery are nil,” the judgment read. “He has no enjoyment in life and his brain damage is irreparable. His condition will not improve.”

The boy’s mother, Hollie Dance, said she was devastated by the judgment and also very disappointed, British television channel Sky News reports. “After weeks of legal battle, when I wanted to be at the bedside of my little boy, a verdict based on MRI scans is not enough,” she lamented, referring to a statement made by an expert medical in court. He said Archie was “most likely” brain dead.

For the mother, “very likely” is not enough and she therefore asked for more certainty. “It appears to be the first time a person has been declared ‘probably’ dead based on an MRI test,” she said.

The judge himself estimated that, on the basis of these scanners, the boy had already died on May 31.

The relatives of the child intend to appeal the judgment, warned Hollie Dance.

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