Ill Ashya King - parents fight for custody

2014-09-04 19:07
A proton therapy treatment room at Proton Therapy Centre in Prague, Czech Republic. (Petr David Josek, AP)

A proton therapy treatment room at Proton Therapy Centre in Prague, Czech Republic. (Petr David Josek, AP)

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Malaga - The parents of Ashya King fought for custody of their critically-ill son in Spain on Thursday, in the latest chapter of a desperate quest to secure special care for the five-year-old with brain cancer.

A day after being released from jail in the southern resort city Malaga, where they had initially faced cruelty accusations, Brett King, 51, and his wife Neghemeh King, 45, waited at Ashya's bedside for British authorities to make a custody ruling.

"My solicitor is dealing with everything. I've got to just concentrate on my family now," Brett King told AFP, looking tired and stressed as he took the elevator to visit Ashya in hospital.

"I'm stretched as it is. I've got six other children."

A friend acting as a spokesperson for the family, Daniel Pask, said the family would talk with doctors and hoped to decide on Thursday on what treatment Ashya would receive next.

"Ashya's condition is as good as it could be. He is being well looked after," Pask told reporters outside Malaga's Maternity and Children's Hospital.

"The family, like everyone else, are just really hoping that today they can have some good news."

"The best method of treatment that will be decided by the best people, that's what the family want for their child," Pask said. "We're hoping to find out today what the best is."

Ashya recently underwent surgery for a brain tumour in Southampton, southern England, but his parents removed him from the hospital there after disagreeing with doctors over his treatment.

In Malaga, Ashya was in a stable condition on Thursday and "his mother spent the night with him" at his bedside, a hospital official told AFP.

The hospital official said doctors were waiting for British consular officials to advise on Ashya's legal status.

"The hospital will provide healthcare for the child until this issue is resolved," said the official, who asked not to be named.

Treatment, love, stress

A lawyer for the Kings, Juan Isidro Fernandez Diaz, told reporters the family's legal team was passing on medical information to the British authorities with a view to renewing the parents' custody of Ashya.

The couple were arrested in Spain on Saturday because doctors raised concerns for Ashya's health after his parents had removed him from the British hospital against their advice.

Brett King said he believed the radiotherapy treatment planned by doctors in England would have turned Ashya into a "vegetable".

A paediatrician from the Southampton hospital that treated Ashya, Peter Wilson, defended the doctors' actions, saying: "It is our job to do the very best not just for the child but for the family. It goes to show how stressed they are as a family."

He said doctors raised the alarm out of "absolute medical concern" because they thought Ashya's condition could deteriorate.

The Kings want Ashya to undergo an alternative treatment called proton beam therapy, available in Prague. Brett King said the family planned to sell its apartment in Malaga to fund the therapy.

The Proton Therapy Centre In Prague has said it was ready to treat Ashya, but that he would need to go back to England first to undergo two cycles of chemotherapy.

The Kings' legal troubles prompted an outpouring of public support in Britain, where tens of thousands of people signed a petition calling for the boy to be reunited with his parents.

Prosecutors had suspected the parents of "cruelty," but the British Crown Prosecution Service withdrew the warrant, saying Ashya appeared to have been properly looked after. A Spanish judge then released them from jail in Madrid.

British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed news that the case had been dropped, saying on his Twitter feed: "It's important this little boy gets treatment and the love of his family."

Read more on:    ashya king  |  spain  |  health

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