Ashya King returns home after ‘living like refugee’

BRAIN cancer survivor Ashya King has returned to the UK with his parents ten months after they took him out of hospital and sparked an international manhunt.
Ashya Kings treatment costs 100,000 per patient. Picture: PAAshya Kings treatment costs 100,000 per patient. Picture: PA
Ashya Kings treatment costs 100,000 per patient. Picture: PA

The five-year-old, who made a “miracle” recovery after receiving proton beam therapy in Prague, said he was “excited” to return home and wished to see his grandmother.

His parents Brett and Naghmeh King initially said they feared to return because their son could be taken into care but the pair now say they have “no reason to hide”.

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Mr King, 52, said: “We just have to face up to the situation now. We would like nothing to happen and for us to be able to get on with our lives.

“We shouldn’t have to be afraid and that’s why we won’t go on living like refugees in a different country for no reason.

“We feel sufficiently assured by Portsmouth City Council that it’s all finished. However, we do have a lingering fear that one day we will get a knock on the door.”

He added the family’s “conscience is clear” following their decision to take Ashya out of Southampton General Hospital without doctors’ consent and seek treatment elsewhere.

Police launched an international search for the parents at the end of August last year and the Kings were arrested in Spain a few days later, spending several nights in prison away from their son before being released.

A High Court judge approved the move to take Ashya to Prague for proton therapy, which the Czech Republic’s proton therapy centre said was more effective than the radiotherapy Ashya was being offered on the NHS.

It limits the collateral damage of radiation to other vital organs, such as the heart and liver in Ashya’s case. This would lead to less severe long-term side-effects including heart and breathing problems.

The therapy was not offered to him on the NHS, although the health service later agreed to fund Ashya’s treatment.

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His grandmother Patricia King has previously described the authorities’ handling of the case as a “huge injustice”.

Last September, Southampton General boss Dr Michael Marsh spoke of his chances of recovery, saying: “The chances of surviving the condition Ashya has are about 70-80 per cent after five years so we believe he has a good chance of a successful outcome provided he gets access to the most appropriate treatment.”

But his parents took their son and their six other children on a ferry to France before driving to Malaga.

The proton beam therapy he underwent, which costs £100,000 per patient, is not widely available on the NHS but is commonly used throughout Europe.

In December, Mr King claimed he was “treated like a criminal” when he returned to Britain for the first time.