Parents of critically-ill baby lose life-support treatment fight

Mr Justice Peel on Friday ruled that medics could lawfully stop providing ‘invasive treatment’ to seven-month-old Indi Gregory.

Brian Farmer
Friday 13 October 2023 15:51 BST
Indi Gregory (Family Handout/GoFundMe/PA)
Indi Gregory (Family Handout/GoFundMe/PA) (PA Media)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The parents of a critically ill baby have lost a High Court life-support treatment fight.

A judge had heard evidence about seven-month-old Indi Gregory’s condition at a recent private trial in the Family Division of the High Court, at the Royal Courts of Justice complex in London.

Mr Justice Peel was told how Indi had mitochondrial disease, a genetic condition which saps energy, and was being treated at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

Specialists say she is dying and the hospital’s governing trust asked Mr Justice Peel to rule that doctors can lawfully limit treatment.

Indi’s parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, who are both in their 30s and from Ilkeston, Derbyshire, want life-support treatment to continue.

Mr Justice Peel on Friday ruled that medics could lawfully withdraw invasive treatment.

“With a heavy heart I have come to the conclusion that the burdens of invasive treatment outweigh the benefits,” said the judge in a written ruling.

“In short, the significant pain experienced by this lovely little girl is not justified when set against an incurable set of conditions, a very short life span, no prospect of recovery and, at best, minimal engagement with the world around her.”

He added: “In my judgment, having weighed up all the competing considerations, her best interests are served by permitting the trust to withdraw invasive treatment.”

With a heavy heart, I have come to the conclusion that the burdens of invasive treatment outweigh the benefits

Mr Justice Peel

The judge went on: “I know that this will come as a heavy blow to the parents.”

Barrister Emma Sutton KC, who led Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s legal team, had told the judge that Indi was critically ill and had an exceptionally rare and devastating neurometabolic disorder.

She said the treatment Indi received caused pain and was futile.

“Indi is dying,” Ms Sutton told the judge.

“We cannot get away from that fact as sensitive as it may be. All realistic options have been exhausted.”

She said nurses were “watching Indi suffer” and added: “This has been looked at nationally, it has been looked at internationally.

She has proved everyone wrong. I think she needs more time

Dean Gregory, Indi's father

“Sadly, the conclusions are that nothing further can be done.”

Mr Gregory had told Mr Justice Peel that his daughter had “proved everyone wrong” and needed “more time”.

“You have only got one life,” he had said. “You have to go through a little bit of pain to carry on with that life.”

Mr Justice Peel considered evidence behind closed doors but allowed journalists to attend the hearing and ruled that Indi, her parents, and the hospital can be named in reports.

He ruled that medics treating Indi, and a guardian appointed to represent her interests, could not be named.

Indi’s parents are being supported by campaign group the Christian Legal Centre.

Mr Gregory said after the ruling: “We are devastated by the judge’s ruling and will be appealing.”

He added: “The doctors painted a terribly bleak and negative picture of Indi’s condition during court proceedings.

“It feels like the trust has been given the permission they were after to legally proceed with a death sentence for Indi.

“Is this in the best interests of Indi or the trust?”

He went on: “That picture was so misleading that, after hearing their evidence in court, the media reported that Indi had to be resuscitated nine times in one day. This is completely untrue.

“During her short life Indi has proved everybody wrong and deserves more time and care from the NHS rather than seeking to end her life as soon as possible.

“It is criminal that parents who are trying to do everything for their child in such difficult circumstances are taken to court and have to contend with the weight of the whole system coming against them.

“Indi can definitely experience happiness. She cries like a normal baby. We know she is disabled but you don’t just let disabled people die. We just want to give her a chance.

“I and we as a family are prepared to do whatever it takes to fight for the life of our beautiful daughter, Indi.”

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