The Italian prime minister has sent a letter of condolence to the parents of Indi Gregory on the day of the baby’s funeral.
Indi, the daughter of Dean Gregory and Claire Staniforth from Ilkeston, Derbyshire, had an incurable genetic mitochondrial condition. She died aged eight months on Nov 13 after her parents’ legal battle to stop doctors from withdrawing treatment for her failed.
On Nov 6, she was granted Italian citizenship but her family lost legal bids to move her to a hospital in Rome.
Medical specialists said they could do nothing further to help the critically ill baby and that further treatment would prolong her suffering.
On Friday, the day of Indi’s funeral at Nottingham Cathedral, Giorgia Meloni wrote to the family, reassuring them that their daughter would “live on”.
“From today, she will no longer be in your arms, and you will no longer be able to be enchanted by her smile, but Indi will live on, because, as Chiara Corbella Petrillo taught us, we are born and we shall never die,” Ms Meloni wrote, quoting the Italian speaker known for her Catholic faith and battle against cancer.
Ms Meloni added that Indi lived “a short life, too short, but long enough for your daughter to remind people everywhere that every life, every single life, no matter how imperfect it may seem to the world, is a treasure to be cherished”.
Pope Francis also sent condolences, describing Indi as an “innocent, fragile human being, who in her silence only asked for love, relationship and care”.
Ms Meloni said: “Indi lived almost all her life in a hospital bed, and yet Indi lived a full life. She let herself be loved and she loved. She brought light into the lives of those around her, filling your lives and those of so many others with meaning.”
She called the child a “little lioness” and said that Italy was her “second homeland”.
The family had been offered further treatment from consultants at Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital in Rome but lost a legal battle to pursue further treatment for her. The Italian Government then offered her citizenship as well as payment for her treatment but the Court of Appeal refused.
Over 100 people attended the funeral including a delegation from the Italian government. In a tribute read by Canon Paul Newman on behalf of Mr Gregory, Indi’s father said that he felt his daughter was “beautiful, strong and unique”, adding that she was a “true warrior”.
“She didn’t only have to battle against her health problems, she had to battle against a system that makes it almost impossible to win.
“Yet, it was her weakest point, her health problems, that distinguished Indi as a true warrior.
“Indi overcame so much: she had seizures, two operations, sepsis, e-coli, including other infections, that even another child would struggle to beat.”
He added: “I have now reached the conclusion that this was indeed Indi’s destiny ... but now this chapter of Indi’s destiny is over.
“Her legacy, however, has only just begun. I wanted to make sure Indi would be remembered forever and she will live on in our hearts and through our voices.”