Italy grants citizenship to critically ill 8-month-old refused further treatment in UK

ROME (OSV News) -- The Italian government granted citizenship to Indi Gregory, an 8-month-old child suffering from a degenerative disease who is at the center of a legal battle in the U.K. to keep her on life support.

After a Nov. 6 emergency meeting, the Italian Council of Ministers said the resolution granting citizenship was made after the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu children's hospital expressed its willingness to offer treatment for the child who suffers from mitochondrial disease, an illness that prevents cells from producing energy."The Italian government has also communicated to the hospital management and the family its commitment to cover the costs of health treatments that are deemed necessary," the council said.In a statement released by Christian Concern, a nonprofit advocacy group working with the family, Indi's father, Dean Gregory, said Italians had given him and his wife, Claire, "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," he said. "I'm very proud to say Indi has Italian citizenship and I thank the Italian government and the Italian people from the bottom of my heart."Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni also commented on the decision, expressing her support to the family and her willingness to protect the infant's life."They say there isn't much hope for little Indi, but I will do what I can to defend her life until the end. And to defend the right of her mom and dad to do all they can for her," Meloni said Nov. 6 on X, formerly Twitter.The decision is the latest turn of events in the battle by the parents to save their daughter's life. Lawyers representing the doctors at Nottingham's Queen Medical Center argued that the disease is incurable and that any further treatment would only cause Indi more pain.The High Court ruled in favor of the doctors' request to limit Indi's treatment, despite arguments from the child's parents saying that the doctors were misleading in their assessment of the child's condition."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," Dean Gregory said in an Oct. 13 statement after the court's decision.Subsequently, representatives of Bambino Gesu, which is the largest pediatric hospital and research center in Europe, offered to treat Indi, leading the parents to appeal to the U.K. High Court for Indi to be transferred from Nottingham to Rome.However, the court denied their appeal Nov. 4, siding with the doctors who argued that any further treatment was futile.According to Christian Concern, one of the appellate court judges who denied the appeal, Lady Justice Eleanor King, had made similar rulings "in a number of high-profile end-of-life cases involving children, including Charlie Gard, Alfie Evans and Archie Battersbee."The group also said that although Indi was granted Italian citizenship, the hospital staff at the Queen's Medical Center threatened to end Indi's life support "despite a Compassionate Care Plan prepared by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust."The plan stated that "parents should be supported to decide where compassionate care would be best delivered," including "a hospice, the hospital, or home."Nevertheless, the advocacy group said Indi's parents said they would appeal in court after being informed that despite their request for the child to go home, the hospital was going ahead with extubation.Simone Pillon, a former Italian senator and lawyer assisting the family's efforts to transfer Indi to Rome, said on X that he was "now working to remove the remaining obstacles and bring her to Rome soon."According to the Reuters news agency, an Italian government source said the parents would be able to appeal to the Italian consulate in Britain to request that Indi be airlifted to Italy.A spokesperson for Bambino Gesu hospital declined to comment on the Italian government's decision and on efforts to have Indi transferred to Rome."We are waiting for the events" to unfold, the spokesperson told OSV News Nov. 7.

- - - Junno Arocho Esteves writes for OSV News from Rome.