Rome Newsroom, Nov 7, 2023 / 10:30 am (CNA).
The Vatican’s pediatric hospital has offered to treat 8-month-old baby Indi Gregory after a British court ruled that she be removed from life support against her parents’ wishes.
Gregory, who was 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.
After England’s high court ruled that it was in the child’s “best interests” to be taken off life support, Gregory’s parents appealed to take her to Rome for treatment, an appeal that was denied by a British judge over the weekend.
The Italian government decided in an emergency meeting on Monday to grant the critically ill child Italian citizenship and to cover the cost of her medical treatment at the Vatican’s Bambino Gesù 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 President Giorgia Meloni wrote on social media on Nov. 6. “And to defend the right of her mamma and papa to do all that they can for her.”
Eight-month-old critically ill baby Indi Gregory was baptized on Sept. 22, 2023. Credit: Christian Concern
The Bambino Gesù hospital has previously offered medical treatment to other critically ill children, including 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 has 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.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre supporting the Gregorys’ case, has noted that this is believed to be the first time that a parent’s appeal against an order to withdraw life-sustaining treatment has been rejected by the Court of Appeal without a hearing.
“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,” Williams said.
“It is very concerning that a child can be held against the parents’ wishes when they have alternative treatment available.”
With the newly granted Italian citizenship, the child’s parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, can appeal to the Italian consulate in Britain to request that their daughter be airlifted to Italy for treatment, according to Reuters.
Simone Pillon, an Italian lawyer assisting the Gregory family, wrote on Nov. 7: “We are working to find an agreement between the two countries to satisfy the family’s request and treat Indi in Rome.”
In response to the Italian government’s decision, Dean Gregory, Indi’s father, 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.”