Newborn baby flown from UK in military plane for treatment after Italy intervened

The Italian government sent an ambulance in a military plane to remove a newborn baby from a hospital in Bristol in a highly unusual move after the boy's parents said doctors were unable to do anything more for the child.

The infant, less than a month old, has not been named. Sky News understands his parents are from mixed Italian and Nigerian backgrounds but are UK residents.

The Italian government says the child has a "very serious cardiac malformation" and that it intervened after the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children was unable to offer further treatment.

Italian lawyer and former senator Simone Pillon told Sky News the hospital was at the cusp of legal proceedings with the parents over ending treatment but halted before any High Court hearing could take place, in favour of cooperating with the Italian offer.

Mr Pillon, who has previously intervened to help other parents take their children to Italy for treatment, called this a significant case in paediatric care.

He said it paves the way for children to be offered treatment abroad without parents being taken to court, as we have seen in previous high-profile cases.

"I believe that if we find a way to cooperate in the best interests of the children we are all winning; there are no losers," he told Sky News. "We thank the hospital and the British doctors. The family want to say thank you too."

He added: "The decision is important to guarantee the security of the baby. I believe today we have written a good page in the relationship between Italy and the UK and between Italian and UK doctors in the best interest of children."

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust said: "We worked with Bambino Gesu Children's Hospital to support the safe transfer of a newborn patient to Rome. Due to patient confidentiality, it would not be appropriate to go into specific details regarding a patient's care."

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Mr Pillon said Italian doctors began operating on the baby on Wednesday and that surgery was due to continue on Thursday.

The Italian Prime Minister's Office said an Air Force flight C130 landed in Ciampino Airport just outside of Rome at 6.30pm on Tuesday 23 April with "a newborn of Italian citizenship, born a few days ago in the United Kingdom".

The baby has been transferred to the Bambino Gesu Paediatric Hospital in Rome.