Eight-month-old baby Indi Gregory, whose family has been embroiled in a bitter legal battle to keep her alive, has died after the UK’s National Health Services (NHS) refused to continue her care and withdrew Indi’s life support. Indi was born on February 24th and diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, a critical illness with a poor prognosis. Indy was receiving life support treatments to keep her alive when a UK court ruled there was nothing more to be done for her and that she should be “allowed to die.” Indi’s parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, disagreed and were represented by the group Christian Counsel. Indi’s father argued that Indi deserved to have continued care as she was still conscious and experiencing life. “Look, if we thought Indi was brain-dead, we would be utterly crushed, but we wouldn’t be disagreeing with the doctors,” he said. “But our daughter responds to us, and on her good days, she is babbling, making noises, moving all her limbs. She can definitely experience happiness.”
The courts, however, did not agree and ruled that Indi could be removed from her life support. In a last-ditch effort, Indi’s family was able to gain Italian citizenship for their daughter. The country’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, directly granted the citizenship and wrote on her Facebook in support of the family. “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 and to defend the right of her mamma and papa to do all that they can for her.” Leadership at the Vatican had arranged for Indi to receive further treatments at Bambino Gesù in Rome. However, despite those efforts, three judges, Lord Justice Peter Jackson, Lady Justice Eleanor King, and Lord Justice Andrew Moylan, denied the appeal and ruled the intervention of Italy was “wholly misconceived.”
Not only did the courts rule not allow Indi to be moved to Italy, but the judges ruled that Indi’s life support must be removed at the hospital or in a hospice and not at home. Little Indi’s life support was removed on Sunday. Reports show that she was able to breathe after being extubated with the help of an oxygen mask, but there were orders not to resuscitate her. Police were reported outside the hospice she was taken to, where she stopped breathing in the middle of the night but recovered on her own. She died early on Monday. “Indi’s life ended at 01.45 am. Claire and I are angry, heartbroken, and ashamed. The NHS and the Courts not only took away her chance to live a longer life, but they also took away Indi’s dignity to pass away in the family home where she belonged,” her father, Dean, announced.
Speaking of the experience, Gregory stated he felt like he had “been to Hell.” Although admitting to not being religious, he said the experience had taught him that if Hell is real, God is real too. “I thought, if hell exists, then heaven must exist. It was like the devil was there. I thought if there’s a devil, then God must exist,” he said. The family had Indi baptized before her death in tradition with the Catholic church’s teachings on baptism. In a statement released after Indi’s death, the Bishops of Wales and England expressed their condolences and stated that the case “shows again the need for greater weight to be given to the parental voice in these complex and sensitive cases.” The Bishops pushed for revisiting an amendment to the Health and Care Act 2022 proposed by Baroness Ilora Finlay on “Dispute resolution in children’s palliative care.” The amendment had been proposed during another – case involving Charlie Gard in 2017. Charlie suffered from the same degenerative disease as Indi, and the NHS had determined to remove his care. A hospital in Texas offered to treat Charlie with experimental treatments, but the UK courts fought against the move. As litigation continued, Charlie’s condition deteriorated to a point beyond intervention for the Texas hospital. Also, like Indi, Charlie’s parents were not allowed to bring him home so he could pass peacefully there. Indi’s father, however, offered some small hope. “They did succeed in taking Indi’s body and dignity, but they can never take her soul,” he said. “They tried to get rid of Indi without anybody knowing, but we made sure she would be remembered forever.” Please be in prayer for Indi’s family during this difficult time.