A judge in the High Court of Britain made a decision on Wednesday to remove life support for an 8-month-old baby who is terminally ill. The parents and Italian government had tried to move the baby to Italy for additional medical care, but the judge ruled that the baby should be taken off life support in a hospice or hospital.
The legal guardians of infant Indi Gregory, who suffers from a rare metabolic condition called mitochondrial disease, have engaged in legal disputes to keep their child on life support. However, a judge has determined that medical professionals have the right to restrict invasive life-sustaining treatment, as it is not in the best interest of the child to continue with such treatment.
The ongoing legal battle is just one of many similar instances in the UK where disputes between doctors and parents arise regarding the care of seriously ill children and the roles and duties of both parties.
Justice Robert Peel, in a written ruling, acknowledged the testimony of medical experts from the Queen’s Medical Center in Nottingham who advocated for the discontinuation of Indi’s treatment in a hospice or hospital setting.
The parents of the infant had a desire to take Indi to Italy, where Bambino Gesu, the Vatican’s pediatric hospital, had offered to provide care for her. If that was not possible, they planned to bring the baby home for end-of-life care.
However, Justice Peel deemed it unsafe to send the infant home due to the clinical complications.
“He stated that there are various factors that make it nearly impossible and not in (Indi’s) best interests to remove the breathing tube and provide palliative care at home with the family.”
The judge had previously determined that relocating to Italy would not be in the best interests of the child, and the Court of Appeal has upheld this ruling.
Christian Concern, a campaign organization supporting Indi’s parents, stated that the parents intend to challenge the decision. The group also mentioned that the general manager of the Italian hospital, who has been named as Indi’s guardian, is requesting an urgent meeting with Queen’s Medical Center on Wednesday.
According to the National Health Service of Britain, there is currently no known treatment for mitochondrial disease. This condition results in a lack of energy production in a patient’s cells, leading to impaired functioning. Tragically, baby Indi has experienced severe brain damage as a result of this fatal disease, rendering her completely reliant on life support. This information was presented as evidence in the High Court in London.
According to Justice Peel, his ruling was influenced by the discovery that Indi was seriously ill and had no chance of getting better, as well as her restricted quality of life. Additionally, evidence showed that she frequently suffered from pain due to her treatment.
Despite offers from the Italian government this week to transport Indi to a hospital in the Vatican and cover the costs of her treatment in Italy, his decision remains unchanged. Additionally, the Italian government has granted Indi citizenship to aid in her transportation and treatment.
On Monday, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her commitment to protecting the life of Indi and the rights of her parents to do everything in their power for her.
However, Peel noted that the letter from the Vatican hospital lacked information about the suggested course of treatment for Indi, and there was no proof that experimental treatments would enhance her overall well-being. Consequently, he stated that continuing with treatment would only prolong the baby’s significant discomfort and anguish.
Dean Gregory, the father of Indi, expressed his disapproval of doctors and British courts for disregarding the offer made by the Italian government.
In a statement through Christian Concern, the father expressed that he has never requested or pleaded for anything in his life, however, he is now imploring the British government to intervene and protect his daughter’s life from being lost.
In the past few years, judges and doctors in Britain have faced backlash from Christian groups and other parties, including politicians in Italy and Poland, for standing by their choices to remove life support for terminally ill children, even when it goes against the desires of the parents.
According to British legislation, the primary assessment in these situations is determining if a suggested course of action is in the child’s best interests.