The British parents of a critically ill baby have suffered another setback after a High Court judge ruled that Indi Gregory must be in a hospital or a hospice when doctors remove her life support and provide palliative care from as early as Thursday (November 9).
The parents will appeal the decision as they preferred that the eight-month-old girl be allowed to return to their home. It’s also unclear whether they can move Indi to a specialist hospital in Italy where the government has offered to continue the baby’s treatment.
Indi has mitochondrial disease and doctors at Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre have said they can do no more for her. Mitochondrial disease prevents cells in the body producing energy and the National Health Service (NHS) says the condition is incurable.
Doctors told courts Indi is dying and that further treatment is futile and causes pain. England’s High Court granted doctors permission to withdraw life support in the baby’s “best interests”. Her parents failed to convince UK and EU courts to overturn the decision.
This week the Italian government held an emergency session to grant citizenship to Indi in an attempt to prevent British doctors from weaning her off life support, and allowing her to be moved to Italy. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni explained: “They say there isn’t much hope for little Indi, but until the end I will do what I can to defend her life. And to defend her mum and dad’s right to do everything they can for her.”
The High Court has previously refused a request from Indi’s parents that they be allowed to take her to the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital which has agreed to provide treatment. The Italian government said it was committed to cover the costs of transportation and medical treatment.
“Even if the transfer to Italy involves some risk, the only alternative we have been offered in the UK is to go along with Indi’s death. There is nothing to lose for us or for Indi,” Indi’s father Dean Gregory said.
“My heart fills up with joy that the Italians have given [mother] Claire and I hope and faith back in humanity. The Italians have shown us care and loving support and I wish the UK authorities were the same. I’m very proud to say Indi has Italian citizenship and I thank the Italian government and the Italian people from the bottom of my heart,” he added.
The Christian Legal Centre which is supporting the family, said it believed this case is the first time that an appeal by parents against an order to withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a child had been rejected by the UK Court of Appeal without a hearing.
Chief Executive Andrea Williams lamented: “The law is there to protect life and the most vulnerable in our society. What is happening in this case sets a very worrying precedent with regard to that principle. There is a hospital prepared to care for Indi in Rome. Indi’s parents desire to give her every chance they can. Why would anyone try to stop this happening for them and for her? To deny them this opportunity is unimaginable, unjust and perverse.”
Former Italian senator Simone Pillon who arranged the placement for Indi Gregory at the Bambino Gesù Hospital said:“We are appalled by the rulings by UK courts in this case and the refusal of the NHS Trust to help the family transfer Indi to Rome.”.
Photo: Christian Concern