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"There are no winners in this situation". Parents of dying boy to face court today.

Five-year old Ashya King

By SHAUNA ANDERSON

Are they loving parents or kidnappers?

Are they religion fanatics or just a family trying to do the best thing by their sick son?

It is the story captivating the world – a desperately ill five-year-old boy “kidnapped” by his parents and taken to another country for medical treatment refused to him.

They have now been arrested and wait in detention while the boy, Ashya, is back in hospital without his parent’s consent- and without them by his side.

British boy Ashya King was taken by his parents from his Southhampton Hospital last Thursday; CCTV footage showed his parents pushing his wheelchair from the hospital.

His family – including his mother, Naghemeh King, and six siblings – then boarded a ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg in northern France. A major police and social media campaign began to find the boy.

It was vital, you see, because time was running out: Ashya is sick. Very sick.

He was in hospital after being operated on for a brain tumor and could die without proper treatment.

The search for Ashya

CCTV of Ashya being taken from hospital

“It is vital that we find Ashya today. His health will deteriorate rapidly,” assistant chief constable Chris Shead said in a media conference after the boy went missing.

“Ashya is in a wheelchair and is fed through a tube. The feeding system is battery operated and that battery will run out today, “assistant chief constable Shead said.

“He must continue to be fed through the tube by someone with the relevant medical training. “If he doesn’t receive urgent medical care or the wrong treatment is given, his condition will become life threatening.”

Appealing directly to the parents and family, he said: “Our message to you is please take Ashya to the nearest hospital immediately. We understand that this must be an awful time for you, but the most important thing is to get the proper medical care for Ashya. Please work with us to provide Ashya with that care.”

He urged Facebook and Twitter users to help track down the family.

The story rapidly spread throughout the world and a manhunt in three countries took place.

Jehovah’s witnesses

As the news spread, so too did the news that the family were Jehovah’s Witnesses – and that the religion typically refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds but are open to other medical procedures.

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Speculation mounted on social media that the boy’s family had taken him to stop him getting further treatment, that they were refusing medical help, that they were religious fanatics with their beliefs at the forefront of their actions not the health of their son.

Brett and Naghemeh King. The images were released by the police.

It turned out that nothing could be further from the truth.

According to The Guardian, a spokesman for The Office of Public Information for Jehovah’s Witnesses said there was “absolutely no indication” that the family’s decision to remove their son from hospital was “motivated by any religious convictions”.

 Father’s Youtube appeal

Then on Saturday night, Ashya’s father posted a video on YouTube explaining why the family took their son.

Finally days later the media and the world began to understand the real motivations from this family.

He called for authorities to “call it off, this ridiculous chase.”

In the ten-minute video, filmed in a Spanish guesthouse, the little boy lay on his father’s lap attached by a tube to a drip on the side of the bed.

“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,” he said.

“He has been smiling a lot more, he has very much been interacting with us.”

Brett King explained that they took their sick son out of hospital as they wanted Ashya to have Proton Beam therapy which is not available for the treatment of brain cancer in the UK and therefore they had no choice but to take him out of the hospital.

“”As you can see there’s nothing wrong with him”

He said that when he told doctors he did not want Ashya to have the treatment they recommended, they were threatened with an emergency protection order, which would have prevented them from seeing their son.

“Proton beam is so much better for children with brain cancer,” he said.

“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.

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“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.”

Proton Beam Therapy

The debate then ensued in the media as to whether proton beam therapy, which is very expensive and not available for the type of tumor Ashya has in the UK would benefit the little boy.

From the BBC:

What is proton beam therapy?

  • It uses charged particles instead of X-rays to deliver radiotherapy for cancer patients
  • The treatment allows high energy protons to be targeted directly at a tumour, reducing the dose to surrounding tissues and organs
  • In general, it gives fewer side-effects compared to high energy X-ray treatments
  • It can be used to treat spinal cord tumours, sarcomas near the spine or brain, prostate cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer and some children’s cancers
  • In December 2011, the UK Department of Health said that proton therapy will be made available for patients in London and Manchester from 2018

But whether or not the therapy could assist Ashya – and whether or not his parents would have made it to the Czech Republic to get the radio therapy — is now a moot point.

Shortly after the video was posted Ashya’s mum and dad Brett King and Naghemeh King were arrested.

Arrests made

They were at a Spanish guesthouse in Southern Spain and had been given up by an employee who had seen their faces plastered across the media.

The parents have been charged with cruelty to a minor, and Sky News reports they are due to appear before a Spanish judge later today.

In the meantime, Ashya has been transferred to a hospital in Malaga, and his brothers and sisters have been placed in care.

“There are no winners”

“There are no winners here.”

The tide of public opinion seems to have turned regarding this case — with a petition calling for Brett King and Naghemeh King to be released now attracting over 4000 signatures.

According to The Guardian, it is unlikely that the Kings have committed an offence by taking Ashya out of hospital.

Professor Penney Lewis of King’s College London, said: “There has never been a case where parents have done something like this and they have been prosecuted.”

Undoubtably all anyone wants in this is the best for five-year-old Ashya.

Assistant Chief Shead said of the case: “There are no winners in this situation. I’ve said all along that this must be a terribly distressing time for Ashya’s family and I stand by that now.”

We will keep you updated on the health of little Ashya and on his parent’s court appearance.

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