If you live in the United Kingdom, chances are you’ve heard of the plight of Ashya King and his family. The five year old brain cancer patient was taken from Southampton General Hospital last Thursday resulting in a European manhunt. His parents took him out of the hospital (apparently without the permission of doctors), crossed the channel by ferry and then made their way over to the Costa Del Sol in Spain.
The police and doctors claim child neglect and hence the manhunt. But the fact is, they left the country because they wanted a less invasive method of treatment for their very young son, one that is unfortunately not available in the UK BUT is available on the continent. Firstly, it’s not like they were denying treatment, they were in fact looking for a treatment that would help him, without damaging parts of his brain with radiation. Secondly, who’s decision should treatment be in this case? The parents of the child or the doctors?
Ashya’s father Brett posted a video on YouTube which allowed the police to trace his whereabouts and on Saturday, Brett and his wife Naghemeh were arrested. Spanish police were acting on a European arrest warrant issued by the Hampshire Constabulary who now (on Tuesday, 3 days after the arrest was made) say “the situation is not right”. It’s a bit late for that!
So what prompted Brett to do what he did? He believed that if he didn’t show compliance with the Doctors at Southampton General, an emergency protection order would be taken out against him, denying him access to the ward.
Given that September is childhood cancer awareness month makes this whole situation even more paradoxical. At a time when a scared little 5 year old boy needs his mom and dad, they are holed up in a Spanish prison while he lays in hospital alone. It was only yesterday that his eldest brother Naveed was allowed to visit him.
The Hampshire police and the doctors who reported the King family have some serious questions to answer. Thousands of pounds have been wasted looking for a family trying to help their son while children like Baby P slip through the net.
Thankfully the King’s are being released in a few hours and I hope they can go back to getting the best possible medical care for their son, even if it means not returning to the UK for now.