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World News

Christian medical leader believes court ruling on Baby Indi is humane option

by Will Hobbs

The Head of the Christian Medical Fellowship has praised the "humanity" of Mr. Justice Robert Peel's judgment, preventing critically ill baby Indi Gregory from leaving Nottingham for experimental treatment in Rome.

8-month-old Indi is suffering from an "irreversible" mitochondrial disease, which Mark Pickering, Chief Executive of the CMF says "affects all of the energy-producing capabilities of every cell in her body."

Her parents were attempting to stop doctors from withdrawing treatment and allowing her to die.

So far during their lengthy legal battle the Courts have sided with Indi Gregory's medical team at almost every turn.  The Christian Legal Council has called the decisions "cruel," describing Indi as "imprisoned", while Indi's father Dean has described the ruling as "sickening".

But Pickering, who's described by CMF as a medical ethics expert, says he understands why the court has made its decision.

"I think one of the central things is to recognize whether there is any hope for Indi to survive, to thrive, and to grow.

He says the mitochondrial disease is not something that's going to go away. "There is no treatment for it.  You can ameliorate some of the effects a little bit, but that is never going to go away."

Indi is also the victim of very significant brain damage, and has a serious heart malformation called the Tetralogy of Falot, which affects blood flow through her heart.  Pickering says it means the shape of her heart and all its chambers formed in a distorted way before she was born.

He says the cardiac treatment being offered in Italy would not reverse the mitochondrial disease or the brain damage.

He says although he understands the attitude of never giving up until the bitter end, it's not always the best thing to do.

"If we think of people who are dying, adults who are dying say of cancer or other diseases, we recognize that there is an endpoint when you have to stop fighting. Many of us recognize that if someone's got terminal cancer, it's not right for an oncologist to just keep thrashing away with your second, third, fourth-line chemotherapy. You have to sometimes recognize that it is time to move into end-of-life care.

"I think there is some dispute over whether actually there is any option for recovery or lengthening of life."

Pickering explains what impact the measures keeping Indi alive will be having on her tiny body. "She's having multiple procedures daily, she's being ventilated in an intensive care unit, she's having to have intravenous access - sometimes by drilling into her bones to get fluids in if you can't get them straight into a vein. And that's not simple.

"I do think that the judge has tried very hard to be compassionate. And he recognizes that a parent in this situation may never want to give up.

"But sometimes we can be clouded by emotion and by the love that we have for a child. And sometimes someone has to step in and say, I think we've gone far enough. And that's really the question here."

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