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World News

Italy steps in to save critically ill baby Indi Gregory on NHS life-support

by Ros Mayfield

The Italian government has given Italian citizenship to 8-month old Indi Gregory, as her family's lawyers make an urgent application to the High Court to prevent NHS doctors removing her life-support.

In a post on X, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said: "They say there isn't much hope for little Indi, but I will do everything in my power to defend her life until the end.

"And to defend her mother and father's right to do everything they can for her."

Italy's cabinet met on Monday and granted the child citizenship, citing "pre-eminent humanitarian values".

On hearing the news, Indi's father, Dean Gregory, said: "My heart fills up with joy that the Italians have given Claire and I hope and faith back in humanity.

Staff at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham have been threatening to switch off the machine, once a legal 'stay' order issued by the High Court had passed, on Monday afternoon.

The family has been fighting Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, since Indi was born with a mitochondrial condition, in February.  They say a Compassionate Care Plan prepared by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which says parents "should be supported to decide where compassionate care would be best delivered."  It lists options as, "a hospice, the hospital, or home."

The family's lawyers also cite a High Court judgment by Mr Justice Peel, last month, which stated that end of life care "can take place at home or at a hospice, as the parents may elect.

Indi's parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, have asked to take Indi home for extubating, or to Italy for specialist treatment, but clinicians have refused both requests. 

The Christian Legal Centre, who are supporting the family's legal action, claims one clinician told the family: "Home just can't be is our decision with you to decide what is in her best interests....the Court Order never said you have the ultimate choice, Dean, it is a choice between all of us." 

Over the weekend two Court of Appeal judges, Lady Justice Eleanor King and Lord Justice Peter Jackson, threw out an appeal against a High Court decision which ruled that it was not in Indi's 'best interests' to be transferred to the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital in Rome for treatment. 

It's believed to be the first time that a parents’ appeal against an order to withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a child has been rejected by the Court of Appeal without a hearing.

The non-invasive procedure, backed by an expert cardiologist, would have been funded by the Italian government at no cost to the NHS or UK taxpayer. 

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “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.

“It is very concerning that a child can be held against the parents’ wishes when they have alternative treatment available."

Indi's father, Dean, has described the emotional battle the family has faced as 'inhumane'.  The CLC has long been advocating for change, not just for Indi, but for future families who find themselves in a similar situation. 

Williams says: “We need reform. We need families to be free to appoint alternative doctors and medical experts with equal access to the patient’s records.

We need proper mediation at the earliest stage rather than parents being dragged into unfamiliar court settings and facing down taxpayer-funded legal teams.”

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