What happened to Archie Battersbee? His injury, coma and battle to stay on life support explained

The 12-year-old has died after his life support was withdrawn

Archie Battersby in his hospital bed on life support
(Image credit: Alamy)

The 12-year-old, who had been in a coma since April, died on 6 August after his life support was withdrawn, leaving many asking what happened to Archie Battersbee?

Archie Battersbee was hospitalised after it's though he attempted the blackout challenge (opens in new tab), a dangerous TikTok trend (opens in new tab) that has recently emerged on the platform. Found unconscious by his mum at home, Archie's sad story has resonated with parents across the country, generating widespread sympathy and a reminder of the devastating effects social media can have.

After nearly four months in a coma, doctors decided to end the 12-year-old's life support - though his parents fought to give him more time. Here's what happened to Archie Battersbee.

How did Archie Battersbee get injured?

Archie's mother, Hollie Dance, believes he sustained his brain damage from taking part in a viral social media challenge, after she found him unconscious at their home on 7 April, 2022.

The trend is known as 'the blackout challenge' (also the 'choking challenge' or the 'pass-out challenge') and is one of the latest in a series of dangerous trends surfacing on TikTok. The challenge has already resulted in the deaths of eight-year-old Lalani Erika Renee Walton from Texas (opens in new tab) and nine-year-old Arriani Jaileen Arroyo from Wisconsin. Both the girls were apparently avid TikTok users and liked to post videos on the app.

How did Archie get brain damage?

The blackout challenge results in a lack of oxygen to the brain, which can be deadly. Although it's not known for certain if Archie was attempting the challenge, his mother believes this to be the case, after she found him with a ligature (a piece of knotted or tied fabric) round his head.

Dr Nick Flynn (opens in new tab) explained to the Irish Examiner (opens in new tab) the effects of the blackout challenge. He said: "What is actually going on in the brain is a lack of oxygen similar to when someone is drowning, choking, or having a cardiac arrest. If you have low oxygen to the brain for over three minutes you can get brain damage and if you have low oxygen to the brain for over five minutes it can result in death."

Why was Archie in a coma?

Archie never regained consciousness after his mother found him at home in early April, and was in a coma for four months, as a result of his injury.

His parents spent weeks fighting a legal battle to keep Archie on life support, in which a specialist told the judge that Archie's brain-stem was significantly damaged, and that there are signs of deterioration since the earlier scans taken in mid-April.

He added that Archie's prognosis was 'very grave' and his chances of recovery were 'very low'.

However, Archie's mother, Ms Dance, said that his stable heartbeat and ability to regulate his temperature and blood pressure is a reason to give him more time. She also wanted to have her son moved to a hospice, so that he could 'spend his last moments' privately with family.

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Why was Archie on life support?

Doctors said that Archie was brain-stem dead, and therefore couldn't live without life support. They also said that it was in his best interests for his life support to end.

Archie's parents, Hollie Dance, 46, and Paul Battersbee, 57, from Southend-on-Sea in Essex, fought a legal battle against Barts NHS trust (opens in new tab) starting in May, in order to keep their son on life support. However, The Royal London Hospital (opens in new tab) in Whitechapel - where Archie is being treated - made the decision to end his care at 2pm on Monday 1 August.

Archie's parents were granted a hearing that same morning after the health secretary asked the courts to 'urgently consider' a request from the United Nations to continue his treatment, however the Court of Appeal refused to postpone withdrawal of treatment until the UN can hear the case.

Archie Battersbee court battle - latest update

A High Court ruled that Archie cannot be moved to from hospital to a hospice, because it would not be in the 12-year-old's best interests.

Archie's family applied for permission to move him after the after The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused an appeal to postpone the withdrawal of his life support. The ECHR said it 'would not interfere' with the UK courts' rulings, following the Court of Appeal's decision that Archie's life-sustaining treatment should not continue, and the Supreme Court's rejection of an earlier appeal. 

Lawyers for Barts Health NHS Trust said in a letter "The trust continues to put Archie's welfare and best interests at the forefront of its decision making about his care. It believes that Archie's condition is unstable and that transferring him even a short distance involves significant risk."

On 6 August 2022, Archie Battersbee died in hospital at 12.15 BST after his life support was withdrawn. Speaking outside the hospital where he died, Archie's mother, Hollie Dance, said she was 'the proudest mum in the world'.

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Ellie Hutchings
Ellie Hutchings

Ellie joined Goodto as a Junior Features Writer in 2022 after finishing her Master’s in Magazine Journalism at Nottingham Trent University. Previously, she completed successful work experience placements with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue and the Nottingham Post, and freelanced as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. In 2021, Ellie graduated from Cardiff University with a first-class degree in Journalism.