I first wrote a blog about Archie Battersbee at the end of June, when his Mum was pushing for an appeal against the court decision to turn off his life support on the grounds of medical advice. Since then, the family have been fighting an Appeal, out of the media limelight, and yesterday they lost that appeal at a High Court Hearing. I understand that Archie’s father, Paul, collapsed before the High Court hearing, with a suspected heart attack or stroke, presumably brought on by the stress of recent events since they found their son unconscious at home back in April . Despite this serious illness, the hearing went ahead , and was lost, without him. How much more does that family have to take?
I read that there is now a 48 hour delay to ending treatment so that the family can appeal higher, to the European Court of Human Rights. I imagine that they will take up that option, if funds allow, as his mother states that she will never give up on him. They are considering whether or not to appeal to the European Court, but if they do not, Archie’s life support will be withdrawn. A further appeal will give them the ‘luxury’ of some more time together if nothing else.
Reading the news story is heartbreaking as Hollie, his Mum, is clearly driven by hope and love for her son, as you would expect. She has found glimmers of hope, like his slight weight gain and an attempt to breathe himself, to argue her case for giving him longer to recover. The medical profession seem to be in agreement that to end Archie’s life, when they believe him to be brain dead, that this decision is in his ‘best interests’.
We are going through the application process for DOLS assessment ( Deprivation of Liberty) at present, to present to the Court of Protection that all of the restrictions in Joshua’s life are in his best interests. I know it is nothing like Archie’s case, but the use of those same words ‘best interests’ are being used in his case to take control of the decision making. The implication is that Archie’s parents are too emotionally involved to be able to look out for their son’s best interests, so that the doctors need to step in and objectively make those painful decisions for them. Any parents would be likely to wish to continue life support of their precious 12 year old son, but the law enables ‘professionals’ to speak out against them, if it is in the child’s best interests.
When I heard the appeal ruling, I felt bad that I had hardly given Archie much thought over the last month. They were in the depths of despair, preparing an appeal case, while I was happily driving around Scotland with my brain -damaged son, having a great break. If they lose this final appeal, they have nowhere else to go; so if he has not woken up by then, the hospital will remove life support and Archie will die and his parents will have to try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, without him in it. The court process will be giving his Mum a focus, to distract her from the agony of feeling helpless sitting by his hospital bed, but once that focus and her son are both gone, if it comes to that, I am concerned for how she will cope, and live the rest of her life, she will need to channel all that ‘fight’ into something constructive.
I was telling my cousin and his wife last week, as they are having battles with her mother’s care home, that when you have a lifetime of fighting for your child’s rights, for being their voice, that you become toughened and that you gain a reputation for being feisty at school or with health professionals. I was the one who would prepare for meetings and arrive with a list of points that I wanted to cover. They are having to do the same for her elderly mother who has dementia, she is being her Mum’s voice and is being misunderstood as being overbearing, when she is only trying to ensure that her mother receives the care that she deserves. Archie’s Mum will have developed new skills for fighting and managing the media and she will have become much more knowledgeable about the law than she ever was before Archie’s accident. I predict that she will become an active campaigner once this is over, as she will have new skills and a desire for change, that might help her recover from the loss of her son.
So as I go about my day, with my brain-damaged son, I will keep Archie and his determined mother in my thoughts and prayers.