On April 7, 2022, Hollie Dance found her 12-year-old son, Archie, unconscious with a ligature over his head. He was rushed to the hospital where he has remained for the last 10 weeks, deemed brain dead, by doctors.
Now, as Archie lies unconscious and on a ventilator at The Royal London Hospital, his mum and dad are in the midst of a legal battle against the court’s decision to take the schoolboy off life support.
While the High Court has ruled that Archie is most likely brain dead and will not recover, Hollie refuses to give up on her son, believing he may still recover and that he was able to squeeze her hand.
What happened to Archie?
On April 7th Hollie and Archie went for lunch. They returned home at 3 pm and planned to see the new Batman movie that evening. Hollie took a phone call in her bedroom around 4 pm and Archie wandered in with his pet rabbit.
He then left, and, after a minute or two, Hollie called out to him. She didn’t get a response so she went into his room to find her son unconscious.
After trying to help her son, she ran to the street screaming for help. An ambulance arrived 15 minutes after she found him and Archie was taken to Southend Hospital in Essex.
Hollie explains how, at first, his pupils were responsive and he was “making efforts to breathe on his own”.
Just hours later Archie was transferred to the Royal London Hospital and Hollie was told her son wouldn’t make it through the night.
Three days later, Hollie was told that Archie had suffered brain death.
While the official cause of the accident has yet to be determined, Hollie believes her son was taking part in a social media craze called ‘the blackout challenge’ where participants choke themselves until they pass out.
Hollie has also stated that her son, who loves gymnastics and is a happy boy, would not have tried to take his own life.
A legal battle
Hollie, Archie’s dad, Paul Battersbee and the rest of “Archie’s Army”, including his older siblings, learned that they would be facing a legal challenge from medics in an email on April 26th.
A spokesman for Barts Health NHS Trust said:
This is a sad and difficult time for Archie’s family and our thoughts and sympathies are with them as they come to terms with what has happened.
In line with the guidance issued by the court, our expert clinicians will provide the best possible care whilst life support is withdrawn. We are also ensuring that there is time for the family to decide whether they wish to appeal before any changes to care are made.”
Mrs Justice Arbuthnot, sitting at the Family Division of the High Court in London, echoed these thoughts, stating that Archie had died “at noon on May 31,” shortly after the most recent MRI scans had been taken.
‘How can I not fight’?
But, for a loving mother who won’t give up on her son, this is not an outcome she’s willing to accept, especially after she felt him squeeze her hand at one stage.
I was told my son would not last the night when he arrived in hospital. Yet here he is ten weeks later.
He’s a fighter, and is fighting the battle of his life – how can I not fight every bit as hard?
All we have ever asked for is time. People are in comas for months but the hospital wanted to pronounce my son dead after just three days when he was still under sedation.
Archie should be treated as a living patient until it can be proven that he’s not — and the MRI scan they have relied on is not proof.
What I know is that a boy who can squeeze my hand is not brain dead. I defy any mother not to do the same if they were in my situation.”
There will be an appeal hearing this Monday to find out the outcome of this devastating situation. Archie’s family and friends have also launched a fundraising campaign in order to pay further legal fees and medical treatment if she is successful in getting her son moved to another hospital.