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Parents of 12-Year-Old Boy Praying for a Miracle, Appealing UK Judge's Decision to Remove Life Support

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The parents of a 12-year-old boy who's on life support are appealing the decision of the UK Royal Courts of Justice to remove his oxygen and other life-sustaining treatment. They're taking their case to a Court of Appeal hearing in London on Wednesday. 

As CBN News reported earlier this month, Family Division of the High Court Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled "on the balance of probabilities" Archie Battersbee had already died after doctors told the court "it was highly likely" he was "brain stem dead."

Archie's mother and father, Holly Dance and Paul Battersbee are trying to give their son every chance at life after he was found unconscious on April 7 with a cord around his neck. He reportedly had participated in what is believed to be an online blackout challenge, according to watchdog Christian Concern.

The boy has remained on life support at the Royal London Hospital and has not regained consciousness.

Judge Arbuthnot ordered, "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." 

"The steps I have set out above are lawful," the judge contended. But she also gave Archie's mother and father, Holly Dance and Paul Battersbee permission to appeal her ruling. 

Arbuthnot said there was a "compelling reason" why appeal judges should consider the case, according to ITV News

According to Christian Concern, this is believed to be the first time that someone in the UK has been declared 'likely' to be dead based on an MRI test.

At a High Court hearing about Archie's case on June 20, Christian Legal Centre attorney Edward Devereux QC argued that evidence should instead show 'beyond reasonable doubt', as in criminal proceedings, that Archie is dead, rather than using a balance of probabilities test.

Archie's parents have been fighting a legal battle to give their son more time and to allow him to have more medical tests to assess whether his condition improves before making the decision about withdrawing his life support. 

In a statement, Archie's mother, Hollie, and sister-in-law, Ella Carter, asked: "If Archie can be pronounced dead via an MRI, which is outside the bounds of the law, then what's going to be next?"

They also thanked everyone for the support the family has received from around the world. 

"Archie's words, if he was sitting next to me right now, would be 'it melts my heart' and I'll use those words now, because everyone's support does melt my heart. So, thank you and please continue to support us in this fight," the statement said. 

Proof of Life? 

Archie's parents say a video of him gripping his mother's fingers is proof that he's still alive and his brain is functioning. 

But his doctors believe there's no hope for the boy to recover since they believe his brain stem is dead. Scans reportedly show blood is not flowing to the area, according to Sky News. The stem lies at the base of the brain above the spinal cord. It is responsible for regulating most of the body's automatic functions essential for life. Doctors previously said Archie's stem is 50% damaged and that 10% to 20% of the stem is in necrosis where cells have died and/or are decaying.

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Lawyers for the Barts Health NHS Trust said that doctors have repeatedly recreated the moment of the boy holding a clinician's hand, but the hospital workers said it was just "friction" not a grip, which the doctors say is consistent with muscle stiffness. 

Eminent Pediatric Neurologist Testified About Cases of Persons Diagnosed as 'Brain Dead' Who Later Recovered

Dr. D. Alan Shewmon, M.D., professor emeritus of Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of California, gave expert testimony about numerous documented cases where persons diagnosed as 'brain dead' subsequently recovered. 

When asked whether there was sufficient evidence for a reliable diagnosis of death in Archie's case, Shewmon replied, "Absolutely not."

An online petition to the hospital's chief executive officer has been created to ask that legal action be withdrawn in Archie's case. So far, more than 89,000 people have signed it. 

A GoFundMe page has also been set up on the boy's behalf. So far, the account has raised £29,042 GBP (or approximately $35,479 in U.S. dollars). 

Archie's mom told Christian Concern earlier this month that the judge's ruling that he's "likely" to be dead is not good enough. 

"Basing this judgment on an MRI test and that he is 'likely' to be dead, is not good enough. This is believed to be the first time that someone has been declared 'likely' to be dead based on an MRI test," she explained. 

"The medical expert opinion presented in Court was clear in that the whole concept of 'brain death' is now discredited, and in any event, Archie cannot be reliably diagnosed as brain-dead," Dance continued. 

She reiterated that she does not believe her son has been given enough time to heal. 

"I do not believe Archie has been given enough time. From the beginning, I have always thought 'why the rush?' His heart is still beating, he has gripped my hand, and as his mother, I know he is still in there," she noted. 

"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," Dance said. 

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said in a statement that Archie's case has raised "significant moral, legal and medical questions as to when a person is dead."

"Archie's parents believe that the time and manner of his death should be determined by God and claim a right to pray for a miracle until and unless that happens. That belief must be respected. The ideology of 'dignity in death', meaning a planned time of death as fixed and carried out by the doctors, should not be brutally imposed on families who do not believe in it," Williams said. 

"We will continue to stand with the family as they appeal the ruling and continue to pray for a miracle," she concluded. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of