Archie Battersbee: what happened to 12-year-old boy, what is online blackout challenge – when treatment ends

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Archie Battersbee what happened: Archie Battersbee died in hospital after weeks of legal battles.

On 7 April 2022, Archie was found unconscious by his mother, Hollie Dance, with a ligature over his head; she later stated that she believes he was taking part in a dangerous online TikTok dare known as the “blackout challenge”.

She then performed CPR, and called an ambulance. On arrival at Southend University Hospital, he remained in cardiac arrest before regaining spontaneous circulation around 40 minutes after his mother had found him unconscious.

It is believed that Archie Battersbee sustained brain damage during this arrest, due to a lack of oxygen to the brain for a sustained period He was transferred the next day to the Royal London Hospital.

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Archie Battersbee
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Archie Battersbee Legal cases

A legal dispute between Battersbee’s parents, supported by the Christian Legal Centre on one side, and the Barts Health NHS Trust and a guardian appointed for Battersbee by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service on the other, was opened at the High Court. Appeals were heard by the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court.

The Trust argued that Archie Battersbee’s treatment should not continue as he was brainstem dead. Battersbee’s parents argued that he needed more time to heal, and that his religious beliefs should be taken into account, his mother saying that “it is for God to decide what should happen to Archie, including if, when and how he should die.”

Battersbee’s family also attempted to involve the European Court of Human Rights, who declined the case, and the United Nations, who had no jurisdiction.

The courts, noting that the Children Act 1989 requires decisions at all stages of a case such as this to be made with the child’s welfare paramount,[6] repeatedly ruled that Battersbee’s treatment should stop, and all appeals by the family against the courts’ rulings were denied.

His life-supporting equipment, including mechanical ventilation, was finally withdrawn on 6 August 2022 and Battersbee was announced to be deceased shortly afterwards at 12:15pm.

So, just what happened to Archie Battersbee, what did doctors and his parents say, what did the judges say? Here’s everything you need to know Archie Battersbee .

7 April

Archie Battersbee is found unconscious by his mother, Hollie Dance, at her home in Southend, Essex. He has a ligature around his neck, prompting her to believe he was taking part in an online challenge gone wrong. The boy is taken to hospital with traumatic head injuries.

26 April

Barts Health NHS Trust, responsible for Archie’s care at the Royal London Hospital, begins High Court proceedings seeking to undertake a test of the brain stem – which is responsible for keeping people alive – and to withdraw mechanical ventilation.

Doctors think it “highly likely” that the youngster is effectively dead, and say it is in his best interests that life-support treatment should stop. Archie Battersbee parents, Hollie Dance and Paul Battersbee, raise concerns.

13 May

High Court Judge Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that a brain stem test would be in Archie Battersbee’s best interests.

16 May

Two specialists attempt a nerve stimulation test on Archie, but no response is detected.

6-8 June

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, sitting in the Family Division of the High Court, oversees three days of evidence and argument relating to Archie’s treatment. Doctors think it is “very likely” he is “brain-stem dead”. Lawyers representing Archie’s family say his heart is still beating and want care to continue.

13 June

Mrs Justice Arbuthnot rules that Archie is dead and says doctors can lawfully stop treating him. Archie’s family say they plan to appeal.

20 June

Ms Dance and Mr Battersbee, are granted permission to appeal against the decision.

29 June

At the subsequent hearing, three appeal judges rule that evidence relating to what is in Archie’s best interests should be reconsidered by a different High Court judge. Archie’s parents say they are “delighted” at the decision.

11 July

High Court judge Mr Justice Hayden hears evidence from doctors that continuing to treat Archie will only “delay the inevitable”. But the boy’s mother says her son is a “natural-born fighter’ and urges doctors to continue care.

15 July

Mr Justice Hayden rules in favour of the hospital trust, saying the medical evidence is “compelling and unanimous” and paints a “bleak” picture. He adds: “There can be no hope at all of recovery.” Archie’s parents say they will ask Court of Appeal judges to overturn Mr Justice Hayden’s decision.

21-22 July

Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson are told during a two-day hearing that medical evidence shows Archie is in a “comatose state”.

25 July

The three Court of Appeal judges rule that doctors can lawfully stop providing life-support treatment to Archie. Again, the family announce plans to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

28 July

Archie Battersbee’s family fail to persuade the Supreme Court to intervene in the case.

29 July

Undeterred, the family make a “last-ditch” application to a UN committee to step in.

31 July

The hospital caring for Archie says his treatment is due to be withdrawn on 1 August at 2pm. However, it is confirmed that the Court of Appeal has granted a virtual hearing for 11am on 1 August after the UK Government asked it to “urgently consider” a request from the UN committee to continue his treatment so the committee could examine his case.

1 August

The Court of Appeal rejects a request to postpone stopping Archie’s treatment. It says his life-support care will end at midday the following day.

2 August

Archie’s parents are refused permission to appeal against the latest ruling at the Supreme Court. Ms Dance says Barts Health NHS Trust will begin to withdraw Archie’s life support on 3 August at 11am unless the family have submitted an application to the European Court of Human Rights by 9am that day. The trust will not begin removing life-support until all legal issues have been resolved.

3 August

The European Court of Human Rights refuses the last-ditch application. Archie’s family say they intend to ask the High Court to allow the schoolboy to be moved to a hospice.

4 August

Nearly four months after Archie suffered traumatic head injuries, his parents formally lodge High Court proceedings over the move to hospice care – something the hospital opposes. Archie’s care continues. A hearing takes place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, lasting late into the evening.

5 August

Mrs Justice Theis rules it is not in Archie’s best interests to be moved to a hospice. The High Court judge refuses the family permission to appeal against her ruling, granting a stay on the withdrawal of Archie’s treatment until 2pm on Friday to allow them to go directly to the Court of Appeal.

Refusing permission to appeal, the Court of Appeal judges say Mrs Justice Theis’ ruling dealt “comprehensively with each of the points raised on behalf of the parents” and said the proposed appeal had “no prospect of success”.

A bid to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing the High Court ruling violated the European Convention on Human Rights, also fails. Archie’s family is told his life support will be withdrawn at 10am on Saturday, campaign group Christian Concern says.

6 August

6 August – Battersbee’s life support was withdrawn, and soon after he was pronounced deceased. Speaking outside the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, east London, Ms Dance said her “beautiful little boy” died at 12.15pm.

7 August – Battersbee’s family demanded an enquiry into his treatment by the NHS.

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