The Italian government decided in an emergency meeting on Nov. 6, 2023, to grant critically ill 8-month-old baby Indi Gregory Italian citizenship and to cover the cost of her medical treatment at the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù hospital. The Vatican’s pediatric hospital has offered to treat after a British court ruled that she be removed from life support against her parents’ wishes. / Credit: Christian Concern
CNA Staff, Nov 8, 2023 / 15:25 pm (CNA).
A terminally ill baby in England is set to be removed from life support on Thursday following a judge’s ruling, despite the pleading of her parents to allow a Vatican children’s hospital to treat the child in Italy.
Indi Gregory, born in February, suffers from a rare degenerative mitochondrial disease and has been receiving life-sustaining treatment on a ventilator at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, England.
Gregory’s parents have repeatedly appealed to take her to Rome for treatment after England’s high court ruled that it was in the child’s “best interests” to be taken off life support. In a desperate effort to save Gregory’s life, the Italian government decided in an emergency meeting on Monday to grant her Italian citizenship and to cover the cost of her medical treatment at the Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital.
According to the British advocacy group Christian Concern, Justice Robert Peel ruled on Wednesday, following a Nov. 7 “urgent online hearing,” that Gregory’s life-support must be removed at 2 p.m. local time on Nov. 9, contrary to the wishes of her parents and over and against Italy’s attempts to help.
The family, supported by the Christian Legal Centre, says they will appeal the decision.
“For the hospital and the U.K. Courts to simply ignore the offer from the Italian government is disgraceful,” Dean Gregory, Indi’s father, said as reported by Christian Concern.
“I appeal to the British government to allow Indi to come to Italy before it is too late. As a father I have never asked or begged for anything in my life, but I am now begging the British government to please help prevent our daughter’s life from being taken away.”
Furthermore, the judge’s order states that the life support must be removed at the hospital or at a hospice, and not at the child’s home, despite a Compassionate Care Plan prepared by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust stating otherwise.
“In the lead up to the ruling…[National Health Service] bosses threatened to remove life-support today [Wednesday], without family members present, despite the mistake in the draft judgment being raised by the family’s lawyers,” Christian Concern reported.
“Father, Dean Gregory, was not at the hospital at the time of the threat and said he felt like he was going to have a heart attack when he was informed,” the group continued.
The Bambino Gesù, which is run by the Vatican, has offered to treat other terminally ill British infants in the past, such as Alfie Evans in 2018 and Charlie Gard in 2017, both of whom were ultimately denied the chance to travel to Italy by U.K. courts and died days after being removed from life support.
Christian Concern published a letter from the president of the Bambino Gesù hospital outlining “a detailed treatment plan” for the child, which includes “life-sustaining treatment and palliative care to ensure Indi’s survival and comfort while the treatments take effect.”
According to Christian Concern, the Italian consul in Manchester, Dr. Matteo Corradini, in his capacity as guardianship judge for Gregory, issued an emergency measure Nov. 8 recognizing the authority of the Italian courts in this case. The measure authorizes the adoption of the Bambino Gesù’s specialist treatment plan and assumes protection of Gregory, appointing the Italian hospital’s general manager, Dr. Antonio Perno, as Gregory’s guardian. The order authorizes her immediate transfer to Bambino Gesù, the group reported.
The Court Order has been communicated by the new guardian to the managing director of the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham “to facilitate constructive collaboration between the Italian and English health authorities in order to avoid legal questions over conflict of jurisdiction,” the group says.
Perno will request to meet with medics at the Queen’s Medical Centre, the group continued, in what is believed to be the first time that such a measure has been issued in an end-of-life case in the U.K.
Gregory’s treatment at Bambino Gesù would be done at no cost to U.K. taxpayers or the NHS.
“They say there isn’t much hope for little Indi, but until the very end, I’ll do what I can to defend her life, and to defend the right of her mamma and papa to do all that they can for her,” Italian President Giorgia Meloni wrote on social media on Nov. 6 after granting Gregory citizenship.
In response to the Italian government’s decision, Gregory said: “My heart fills up with joy that the Italians have given Claire and I hope and faith back in humanity. The Italians have shown us care and loving support and I wish the U.K. authorities were the same.”