A judge of Britain’s High Court, Justice Robert Peel, ruled on Wednesday that the life support of a terminally ill 8-month-old infant, Indi Gregory, will be revoked against her parents’ wishes. This comes in spite of efforts by the Italian government and the Vatican to transport the infant to a Catholic hospital in Italy for further treatment, which would be fully paid for by the Italian government.
Indi 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. Her parents have been fighting a series of legal battles to continue Indi’s life; however, a British judge ruled doctors can lawfully limit life-supporting invasive treatment, claiming that continuing with the treatment would not be in the child’s best interests.
Following the news of the court’s original decree that treatment would cease, the Italian government granted Indi Italian citizenship on Nov. 6 and agreed to pay all medical expenses for her treatment at the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital.
“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,’’ Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a Facebook post. “And to defend the right of her mamma and papa to do all that they can for her.”
The Court Maintains it’s Ruling:
Justice Robert Peel maintained his ruling that Indi’s life support would be revoked despite Italian intervention, citing findings that Indi was critically ill, had no prospect of improvement, had an “extremely limited quality of life,” and that she experienced frequent pain as a result of her treatment.
Britain’s National Health Service has also stated there is currently no cure for mitochondrial disease, a disease that causes the patient’s cells to be unable to produce enough energy to operate properly. The disease has caused progressive brain damage in Indi, leaving her totally dependent on life support, according to evidence presented to the High Court in London.
Indi’s parents petitioned Britain’s Appeals Court, the second highest court in the nation, to continue her life; however, the Justices ruled that life support should be terminated “immediately” on Friday.
The Justices further denounced the actions of the Italian government, calling their actions “wholly misconceived” and “not in the spirit” of the 1996 Hague Convention, a convention that emphasizes that decisions regarding children should be made in the best interests of the child, provides a framework for determining which country’s authorities should handle such cases, and ensures that orders issued in one country are recognized and enforced in another.
The general manager of the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital, Dr. Antonio Perno, made an urgent application to the U.K. high court on Thursday, calling for the judge to cede jurisdiction of the case to him.
However, Justice Peel said the petition from Dr. Perno provided little detail regarding the proposed treatment for Indi, and there was no evidence that experimental treatments would improve her quality of life. Instead, he said continuation of treatment would “perpetuate a high level of pain and suffering” for the infant.
The order to end life support for Indi is expected to come this weekend; however, a date has not yet been released.
The case of Indi Gregory is one of many in the United Kingdom, with Bambino Gesù offering to provide treatment to affected children on two previous occasions. These include Alfie Evans in 2018 and Charlie Gard in 2017, both of whom were ultimately denied the chance to travel to Italy by British courts and died days after being removed from life support.