LONDON (AP) — A terminally ill baby at the center of a legal battle involving her parents, British health officials and the Italian government has died, a group supporting her family said Monday,
Christian Concern said Indi Gregory died in a hospice on Monday morning after her life support was withdrawn on Sunday.
The 8-month-old baby had suffered brain damage as the result of a rare condition known as mitochondrial disease.
Her doctors said her life support should be removed to allow her to die at a hospital or hospice. Her parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, fought to continue life support in hopes that experimental treatments might prolong her life. The Italian government had sought permission for her to be treated at Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome and even granted the baby Italian citizenship.
Doctors argued that Indi had no awareness of her surroundings and was suffering and should be allowed to die peacefully. Repeated legal attempts, backed by Christian Concern, were rejected by British judges.
In a statement early Monday, the baby’s father bitterly criticized the courts for even refusing to let her die at home.
“Claire and I are angry, heartbroken and ashamed,” Gregory said. “They did succeed in taking Indi’s body and dignity, but they can never take her soul.”
The case is the latest in a series of legal wrangles in the U.K. between parents and doctors over the treatment of terminally ill children. British judges have repeatedly sided with doctors in cases where the best interests of the child take precedence, even if parents object to a proposed course of treatment.
On Friday, Court of Appeal Justice Peter Jackson said doctors caring for Indi and other critically ill children had been put in an “extremely challenging” position by the legal tussle and decried what he described as “manipulative litigation tactics” designed to frustrate orders made by judges after careful consideration.
Italian Premier Giorgio Meloni paid her respects in a social media post, wishing the baby Godspeed.
“We did everything we could, everything possible,” Meloni wrote. “Unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”