Doctors test if 12-year-old boy at treatment dispute center is dead

Experts will next week conduct a test to try to establish whether a 12-year-old boy at the center of a life-support treatment dispute after suffering “catastrophic” brain damage in an incident at home is dead, hospital chiefs say. A Supreme Court judge concluded on Friday that a brainstem test would be in Archie Battersbee’s best interest after a doctor told him the brainstem was responsible for the functions that keep people alive.

Judge Arbuthnot was told that specialists treating Archie at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, thought the young man was “highly likely” to be dead. A spokeswoman for the hospital’s management, Barts Health NHS Trust, said after the private hearing at the Family Division of the London High Court that a brainstem test would be scheduled for next week.

Hollie Dance, who cried when Judge Arbuthnot delivered her ruling, told how she found her son Archie with a bandage on his head on April 7 and thinks he might be participating in an online challenge. “There hasn’t been enough time to see what he can do,” Dance said after the decision.

“He squeezed my fingers tightly. I think this is his way of letting me know that he is still here and just needs more time.”

She added: “Until it’s God’s way I won’t accept that he must go. I know miracles when people come back from brain death. He may not be the same as he was, but if there is a possibility that he can live a happy life after this, I want to give it to him.”

Judge Arbuthnot, who learned that Archie had suffered “catastrophic” brain damage, said Archie’s family and doctors needed to know the results of the brainstem test. I understand on a human level the anguish of the family,” she said.

Judge Arbuthnot oversaw a private hearing, but said Archie could be cited in media reports about the case. A campaign organization called the Christian Legal Center said it is supporting Archie’s family.

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