Indi Gregory: Parents of critically ill baby lose High Court life-support treatment fight

  • Indi's father, Dean Gregory has said they will appeal the decision.

Parents of a seven-month-old critically ill baby have lost their high court battle to keep her on life support.

A judge had heard evidence about 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.

Indi was born with a mitochondrial disease – a genetic condition that saps energy from the body’s cells – and was put on full life support last month.

Mr Justice Peel was told how Indi 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.

Lawyers for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have since asked a High Court judge to rule that it is not in her best interests for critical care to continue, including ventilation.

However, Indi’s parents, Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth, from Ilkeston, want the 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.”

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.

Indi Gregory's father had said he ‘will do whatever it takes’ in treatment fight Credit: Family handout

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.

“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.”

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

What is mitochondrial disease?

When a person has mitochondrial disease, the mitochondria in the cells are not producing enough energy. Sometimes they are not very efficient or they do not work at all.

The parts of the body commonly affected are those that have the highest energy demands, such as brain, muscle, liver, heart and kidney.

When these systems are effected mitochondrial disease is usually progressive.

Every person with mitochondrial disease is affected differently. Each individual affected will have a different combination of mitochondria that are working and not working within each cell.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...