Judge rules life support for ‘brain dead’ boy, 12, must end

Brain-stem testing, such as the apnea test, is the approved test for death by neurological criteria under the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges code of practice. Medical witnesses told the court they have never relied on alternatives.

Instead, MRI and CT scans were used as evidence – which Dr Daniel Shewmon, a US neurologist of 40 years, told the court were “absolutely not” a basis for a reliable diagnosis of death in Archie’s case, as they cannot distinguish between little or no blood flow to the brain.

Describing the case as “tragic”, Mrs Justice Arbuthnot said in a written ruling: “I find that irreversible cessation of brain stem function has been conclusively established.

“I give permission to the medical professionals at the Royal London Hospital to cease to ventilate mechanically Archie Battersbee; to extubate Archie Battersbee; to cease the administration of medication to Archie Battersbee; and not to attempt any cardio or pulmonary resuscitation on Archie Battersbee when cardiac output ceases or respiratory effort ceases.”

She added “the steps I have set out above are lawful” and “his position is not going to improve”.

‘A troubling and dark precedent’

The judge said that, had she not concluded Archie was dead, she would have ruled that it was not in his best interests to stay on life support as this risks sudden death without the chance to say goodbye.

Andrea Williams, the chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This ruling sets a troubling and dark precedent. This case has raised significant moral, legal and medical questions as to when a person is dead.”

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