31 August 2014
Last updated at 09:57
A five-year-old boy with a brain tumour who was removed from a UK hospital by his parents has been found in Spain.
Ashya King was taken to a hospital in Malaga and his parents arrested, Hampshire police said.
His father Brett King defended his actions in a video posted on YouTube, saying the family were seeking a treatment Ashya had not been offered.
His disappearance from Southampton General Hospital on Thursday sparked an international search.
Hampshire Constabulary said it had obtained a European arrest warrant on the grounds of neglect. The five-year-old had been removed from hospital against medical advice.
In the video Mr King said his son was doing well, indicated a machine used to feed him was operating normally and called for the “ridiculous chase” to be called off.
Support for the parents’ actions has also been voiced by some users of social media.
Situation ‘very serious’
Mr King said he and his wife, Naghemeh, had been seeking proton beam radiotherapy for Ashya – a treatment that targets tumours directly – because they did not want him to be “pelted with radiation”.
“Proton beam is so much better for children with brain cancer,” Mr King said in the video.
Mr King said the couple had “pleaded” with health authorities in Southampton for Ashya to receive the treatment, but were told it would have “no benefit whatsoever”.
Southampton General Hospital has not responded to the claims made in the video.
The charity Cancer Research UK says proton beam treatment is only available on the NHS in the UK for eye conditions.
It says countries in Europe, Japan and the USA are using or testing the treatment for types of cancer, including spinal cord tumours and cancers of the prostate, lung, liver and brain, as well as some children’s cancers.
Mr King said the family was not “neglecting” the boy and Ashya was “responding so much better” than he did in hospital.
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
Speaking after the couple’s arrest, Hampshire Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead said the family had been located near Malaga.
Staff at a hotel in Malaga had recognised the family and alerted police.
He said Ashya had been showing “no visible signs of distress” when he was found by Spanish police with his parents in the family’s car, adding: “There are no winners in this situation.”
“We’ve said all along this must be a terribly distressing time for Ashya’s family and I stand by that now. I think it’s been a dreadful period for them.”
Officers from the UK are due go to Spain to continue the investigation.
Mr Shead said it was too early to say when Ashya would return to the UK, but Southampton General Hospital has been contacted and would liaise with doctors in Malaga.
He said it would be a matter for the doctors to decide when he would return to the UK.
Concerns for his health had grown because he is fed through a complex unit and its batteries, designed only for temporary use, are not easily replaced.
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