herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Ashya breathless with joy at seeing his parents again

The parents of young cancer patient Ashya King have described how the boy struggled for breath with joy as he was reunited with his family in a Spanish hospital.

Brett and Naghmeh King saw the five-year-old brain tumour patient yesterday 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 Materno-Infantil hospital in Malaga with his older son Danny, Mr King spoke of the first moments he saw Ashya.

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

Hospital officials said Mrs King was expected to stay with Ashya through the night, amid reports the Kings would not be permitted to remove the child from the premises.

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 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 alternative?', 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 could get an immediate court paper to say that they have right over my child.

fear

"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."

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 that decisions taken in Ashya's case were "not correct".

At Prime Minister's Questions, he added: "To be fair to the authorities involved, they all want to do the best for the child. That's what they are thinking of."

hnews@herald.ie

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