Ashya King spends comfortable night in hospital

A family picture of Ashya King in Southampton General Hospital last month
A family picture of Ashya King in Southampton General Hospital last month

Residents in south east ‘in hibernation’

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Young cancer patient Ashya King has spent a comfortable night in a Spanish hospital with his mother at his bedside after being reunited with his family, officials said.

The five-year-old brain tumour patient from Southsea is expected to see a cancer specialist at Materno-Infantil Hospital in Malaga on Thursday.

On Wednesday Ashya’s parents Brett, 51, and Naghmeh King, 45, saw their son for the first time since they were arrested on Saturday, having fled from Southampton General Hospital in search of treatment.

Leaving through a back door of the hospital with his older son Danny on Wednesday night, Mr King spoke of the first moments he saw his son.

“He couldn’t breathe he was so happy,” he said. “He was so pleased to see us. We’re trying to be hopeful.”

Mr King added: “He’s not in such a good state as when we left him - spirit depressed since his parents left him. We’ll do what it takes. Not much else to do.”

A Materno-Infantil spokeswoman said local authorities had received notification from British officials that the parents should not be allowed to take the boy away.

The reunion initially appeared to be in doubt when Mr King claimed he would be barred from visiting the child after Ashya was made a ward of court. But it was established that those proceedings do not stop the couple seeing him.

Mrs King said she had been “crying and crying” as she described the torment of being unable to help her son from the jail cell near Madrid where she and her husband had been detained since they were arrested on Saturday.

She told the BBC: “What could I do in a prison cell? I was just praying so I could be reunited with him again. All I could do was just cry and pray.”

Mr King said his heart was “aching” to see Ashya again and hit out at their treatment since they removed him from Southampton almost a week ago, saying they had been “treated like terrorists”.

He claimed he had previously informed the hospital about his plans to seek proton beam therapy for his son - which he said was not available to him on the NHS - but kept the date that he intended to take him secret, for fear he would be stopped.

“I couldn’t actually tell them the day because they had threatened me previously,” he said.

“When I just asked ‘What is cancer? How did my son get it? Is there any alternatives?’, straight away they said if I ask any more questions the right for me to make a decision would be taken away from me because they get an immediate court paper to say that they have right over my child.

“So from that moment I had so much fear to mention anything to them because they could have stopped my son getting any treatment and just forcing this very strong treatment on him. I was in fear.”

They couple were freed from Soto del Real prison on Tuesday night after British authorities abandoned their attempts to extradite them, amid a public backlash.

David Cameron told MPs this week that decisions taken in Ashya’s case were “not correct”.

And the Prime Minister said on Thursday it appeared that “common sense” had now prevailed, with Ashya’s reunion with his parents.

Speaking on ITV1’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Cameron said: “I think in the end common sense won out and this poor child has been reunited with his family, but it is tragic they were separated.

“Having had a disabled child often in hospital being fed through a tube, those pictures absolutely meant so much to me, because the thought of having your much loved boy separated from you for all those hours and days, I can’t think of anything more painful for a parent.”

Speaking outside Southampton General Hospital on Wednesday, Dr Peter Wilson, chief paediatrician, told Sky News that the family had made it clear that they would like to take Ashya to Prague, but that the hospital had no idea the family had planned to leave.

He said the family were not keen on parts of the treatment which had been suggested, and that there were discussions about different forms of treatment.

He said: “We had made it very clear what could be offered on the NHS. While were we having those discussions, the family made it very clear they would like to go to Prague. At no stage did they say they were going to take Ashya and go to Prague.”

Asked whether they had threatened Mr and Mrs King with an order which would have taken away their right to make decisions about their son’s care, he said: “Absolutely not. We absolutely disagree with that statement.”

He added: “We have said to them (the family) that we would absolutely take him back here.”

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 Charity Kids’n’CancerUK said they have agreed to pay the £100,000 needed for Ashya’s treatment, plus living costs, after donors pledged £35,000 in 24 hours.

Chief executive Mike Hyman said: “I have spoken to Ashya’s brother, Naveed, and he is dead chuffed.”

In a statement on Wednesday night, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones said there appeared to have been a “misunderstanding” on Wednesday and called for urgent clarification about Ashya’s treatment.

Daniel Perez, a health delegate for the regional government of Andalucia, said: “The parents have told the hospital that the child is being well looked after, they are happy with the treatment he is receiving at the Materno-Infantil hospital, and initially they have said the child is going to be here for a few days.”