Ashya King: Five-year-old and his parents are reunited as charity offers to pay for medical care
Southampton General Hospital defends its dealings with the family as they now seek treatment for Ashya's brain tumour in the Czech Republic
The released parents of Ashya King have been reunited with their son as a charity offered to pay for the medical treatment, in the Czech Republic, that had prompted their flight from Britain.
Brett and Naghmeh King had not seen the five-year-old since their arrest in Spain on Saturday night, after taking him from hospital without the consent of doctors.
Southampton General Hospital defended its dealings with the family and denied threatening to take away the Kings’ right to decide their son’s care. Mr King, 51, claimed he had told doctors that he planned to remove his son from hospital after disagreeing with their treatment plan on the basis of his own internet research.
He said he and his family had been treated like terrorists after their three nights in custody following a pan-European search for the boy as fears grew for his safety.
“My son’s worth everything, worth me going to prison, because they were going to kill him in England or turn him into a vegetable,” he told Sky News.
The parents were finally reunited with Ashya at the Malaga hospital where he is now being treated, although they were not allowed to take him away with them.
Mr King said his son was so overwhelmed to see them that he “couldn’t breathe, he was so happy. Tomorrow I meet with the cancer specialist. Ashya is not in such a good state as when we left him. We’ll do what it takes. Not much else to do,” he said.
Mrs King said she had been “crying and praying” in her cell while she awaited her release after prosecutors dropped the case against them. “I was just praying so I could be reunited with him again. All I could do was just cry and pray.”
Although Ashya has been made a ward of court, a High Court judge said on Tuesday that the priority was for the family to be reunited and no decisions about his future would be made until a further meeting on Monday.
It now appears likely that the Kings will secure their goal of having Ashya’s brain tumour treated at a Prague clinic with a technique not available in Britain. Senior doctors at Southampton have maintained that the treatment offered in the UK was more suitable for the child.
Dr Peter Wilson, the hospital’s chief paediatrician, said Ashya would need chemotherapy before any proton-beam therapy in Prague.
Discussions had taken place with hospitals in the Czech Republic, Spain and other children’s hospitals in Britain about where that would happen, after the breakdown in relations between the family and doctors.
“If there is a dispute between the parents and the medical authorities... the court will make the decision, probably at the hearing on Monday,” the Judicial Office said.
“If the parties are in agreement, the court will endorse that agreement, and the judge indicated in court that he will be available at all times to give his approval if an agreement is reached before Monday so that treatment can be started without further delay.”
Earlier, the Proton Therapy Centre in the Czech Republic claimed it had been sent Ashya’s medical records and believed the technique was suitable for him.
Dr Jiri Kubes, head of proton therapy at the clinic in Prague, said: “So, Ashya shall go for proton therapy to the Czech Republic. However, prior to this he will need to return to England first.”
A fundraising page set up to help pay for the treatment has so far raised more than £21,000, while the charity Kids’n’Cancer UK said it had agreed to pay the £100,000 needed for the treatment, plus living costs, after donors pledged £35,000 in 24 hours.
Mike Hyman, its chief executive, said: “I have spoken to Ashya’s brother, Naveed, and he is dead chuffed.”
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