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Archie Battersbee's parents win appeal, granted new hearing to block removal of son's life support

Hospital
The Royal London Hospital |

The parents of Archie Battersbee have won the right to a new hearing to determine whether their 12-year-old son can continue on life support after a judge ruled that a London hospital could discontinue the boy's care. 

Battersbee's parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, appeared before judges at the Court of Appeals in London Wednesday to argue for their son's care to continue. 

In a decision handed down in the Family Division of the High Court earlier this month, Justice Emma Arbuthnot ruled that medical professionals at Royal London Hospital could remove Archie Battersbee's life support. The boy has been unconscious since April due to a brain injury. 

Arbuthnot ruled that Battersbee, who was discovered unconscious at home with a ligature around his neck on April 7, is likely dead "on the balance of probabilities." She permitted the parents to appeal the decision. 

According to a statement released by the Christian Legal Centre, which has been supporting the family, a panel of three judges ruled there should be another hearing on Battersbee's case. 

The decision was made by the Master of the Rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos, President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane and Lady Justice King. The High Court will hear the case again on July 11, "with the understanding that Archie remains alive," according to the legal group. 

CLC Chief Executive Andrea Williams said in a statement that the ruling "shows the critical importance of never giving up." 

"In these difficult moments, nerves and principles are important," she said. "This judgment upholds life and will protect many more people from a slippery slope in which the legal definition of death is expanded."

"Where there's life, there's hope. We keep praying that Archie will be able to recover, given more time," she concluded. 

Hollie Dance said that she is "delighted" by the decision. 

"We wanted another hearing and we've got everything we wanted," she said, according to The Daily Mail.

Paul Battersbee expressed the same sentiment, stating that "It couldn't really have gone any better today." 

Edward Devereux QC, a barrister leading the parents' case, argued before the court that the case should be "remitted for consideration by a High Court judge who should considerer whether it is in Archie's best interests for life-sustaining treatment to continue."

The new hearing will take place before a different judge, Justice Anthony Hayden, according to The Daily Mail. 

In the initial ruling, Arbuthnot concluded that Battersbee is effectively brain dead and should be disconnected from the ventilator. Lawyers representing Barts Health NHS Trust, the hospital's governing trust, asked the judge to make a decision in the child's best interests. 

"The evidence in my judgment shows a gradual deterioration from very early on in Archie's admission into hospital when he had already suffered a very severe brain injury when blood supply and oxygen were prevented from reaching his brain," Arbuthnot wrote. 

"It is clear from the anxious and careful scrutiny of all the evidence including from clinicians with different specialisms from five separate hospitals that tragically on the balance of probabilities, Archie is dead."

The judge gave "permission to the medical professionals at the Royal London Hospital (1) to cease to ventilate mechanically Archie Battersbee; (2) to extubate Archie Battersbee; (3) to cease the administration of medication to Archie Battersbee and (4) not to attempt any cardio or pulmonary resuscitation on Archie Battersbee when cardiac output ceases or respiratory effort ceases."

In a statement shared earlier this month by CLC, Dance refused to "give up on Archie."

"Until it's God's way, I won't accept he should go. I know of miracles when people have come back from being brain dead," she stated. 

The parents maintain that their son has not been "given enough time." The case is also believed to be the first time an MRI test has been used to declare someone is "likely" to be dead, CLC claims. 

"From the beginning, I have always thought, 'why the rush?'" Dance asked. "His heart is still beating, he has gripped my hand, and as his mother, I know he is still in there."

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