Ashya King, the five-year-old Hampshire child who was taken by his parents as they fled with him and several of his siblings to the Continent while he was about to undergo critical radiotherapy treatment for cancer, has been found safe and well, reports British tabloid Metro.
King, who suffers from a brain tumour, was taken from his hospital bed at Southampton General Hospital in southern England by his parents Brett and Naghemeh, both said to be devout Jehovah’s Witnesses ( a branch of Christianity which does not permit medical blood transfusions). After the abduction last week, British police put out an appeal for Ashya’s return, encouraging people with relatives in the European mainland to advise them to be on the lookout for the little boy, who needs vital hospital care around-the-clock.
After a Europe-wide search by police, Ashya and his parents were found safe and well in Malaga, a popular tourist resort in Spain. His parents have however been arrested by local police for endangering their son’s life. They are currently being questioned by detectives. They had been discovered as they were about to check into a local hotel, the Hostel Esperanza in Benajarafe. Police had pulled over their people carrier, discovering Ashya and his mother and father inside.
The latest development and conclusion of the case, which first made the headlines in the middle of last week, comes as Ashya’s father Brett posted a YouTube video via his other son’s account criticising the National Health Service (NHS), a government agency in the United Kingdom that manages public hospitals, clinics and other taxpayer-funded healthcare services. The video shows Brett sitting on the bed with Ashya, who has a drip-feed attached to him. Brett King said in that video that “we couldn’t be under that system any more.” Brett also said that Ashya was receiving a better standard of pre-operation care in Spain and that his health had improved markedly. He appealed to the U.K. authorities to “call it off, this ridiculous chase“. Ashya’s father had wanted his son to receive Proton Beam therapy in order to treat the malignant tumour in his son’s brain. According to Cancer Research UK, a research charity, the therapy was developed to target inoperable or hard-to-reach tumours, and is a form of radiotherapy that has little effect on surrounding tissues, meaning less in the way of side-effects for the patient. However the treatment was not available in the Southampton hospital or at any other medical facility in the UK, forcing the child’s parents to take the step of withdrawing Ashya from his current programme and then fleeing the country altogether. He then claimed that when he told doctors of his decision to end Ashya’s treatment, he and his wife were threatened with imposition of an ’emergency protection order’, which would have prevented them from seeing their son.
“Proton beam is so much better for children with brain cancer,” Brett said in the ten minute clip. “It zones in on the area, whereby normal radiation passes right through his head and comes out the other side and destroys everything in his head.
“So we pleaded with them for proton beam treatment. They looked at me straight in the face and said with his cancer – which is called medulloblastoma – it would have no benefit whatsoever.“
Brett felt his son’s treatment was unhelpful ‘trial and error’ and since their fleeing to Spain, he and his family had become ‘refugees’.
“We can’t do anything. The police are after us. The things we want to do to raise the money to pay for the proton beam, they’ve prevented it now.
“So my son is being treated and he’s doing fine. We’re very happy with his progress. We’re not neglecting him. He has everything he had in hospital.” Brett added.
In a recent press conference, the Hampshire Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead said Ashya and his parents were located near Malaga, according to Metro.
“We don’t have many details on Ashya’s condition at this point in time, but what we do know is he was showing no visible signs of distress,” Mr Shead said. The parents are currently being held at a police station in nearby Velez-Malaga, while their eldest son Naveed is looking after their other children. Mr and Mrs King were expected to be taken to Madrid on Sunday for an extradition hearing at Madrid’s Central Criminal Court.
The Hampshire police also stated that doctors working at the Southampton General Hospital are working with fellow professionals at Ashya’s current hospital in Malaga to transfer Ashya to a specialist children’s facility in the area where he can receive more specialised help. Police offices from the constabulary will also be flying out to Spain to assist in the local investigation.
Yesterday (Saturday 30 August 2014), police had obtained a European arrest warrant for Brett and Naghemeh King, which was written on the grounds that they had neglected Ashya by removing him from Southampton General’s care. They said that it would be a last resort measure and that they preferred the parents to hand themselves in voluntarily. They were concerned that without usage of his battery-operated feeding tube, Ashya would possibly die. The tube is a piece of specialist equipment that can be fitted only by trained medics. However, Ashya’s father denied putting his son’s life at risk, saying that they had packed spare feeding tubes and Calpol (a children’s paracetamol syrup brand for treating colds and high temperatures) before leaving the country.
“We were most disturbed today to find his face is all over the internet and newspapers and we have been labelled as kidnappers, putting his life at risk, neglect,” he said.
“As you can see there’s nothing wrong with him, he is very happy actually since we took him out of hospital,” Mr King said.
“He has been smiling a lot more, he has very much been interacting with us.“
It is not known what the fate of the parents of Ashya will be upon their eventual return to Hampshire or the future status of Ashya’s treatment. Whether he will be allowed to remain in his parents’ care is also uncertain at this point.
Additional reporting and Brett’s comments on the case via the Telegraph newspaper.