Ashya family 'blown away' by help

The family of five-year-old brain tumour patient Ashya King have been "blown away" by the support they have received, a family friend said.

Ashya King, who has been reunited with his parents following their release from prison.
Ashya King, who has been reunited with his parents following their release from prison.

The boy's father, Brett King, visited him at the Materno-Infantil hospital in Malaga after mother Naghmeh spent the night at his bedside.

Yesterday the pair saw their son for the first time since they were arrested on Saturday, having fled from Southampton General Hospital in search of treatment.

Speaking outside the Spanish hospital, family friend Daniel Pask, 35, said that they are hoping that a plan for Ashya's treatment will be decided today.

Mr Pask said: "At the moment Ashya is in the best position we can hope for. The legal team are working tirelessly on the legal side of things.

"He is in a brilliant position, the best that can be hoped for. There are various different legal matters.

"The family are of course looking to achieve the best possible care at the moment.

"We still don't know, it's not confirmed what is the best possible treatment and we are really hoping that today is the day that we can answer that."

On the future health plans for Ashya, he said: "I don't have information on that. This is something which is one of the legal matters. That's been handled by the legal team.

"All I know is that the family, like everyone else, hope that today they can have some good news. They want the best treatment for Ashya and they want it at the right time.

"There are many many experts on this. But there are fantastic doctors here in Spain - fantastic people, world class experts in this kind of thing.

"And now that we have all the attention, let's see what the experts say."

He said the King family were "blown away" by the level of support they have received.

He said: "They want to say thank you so much for the support. They're blown away by the generosity of people in this case. They're trying to wrap their heads around it.

"They're just a normal family and they've had this amazing response from the public and the press. All that support is wonderful, absolutely fantastic."

Asked what would happen next in Ashya's treatment, he said: "Whatever is the best method of treatment will be decided by the best people.

That's what the family want for their child. We're hoping to find out what the best thing is today.

"When the family have spoken to the doctors later today we will have more information. We're very keen to spread the information, hopefully spreading good news, and the best way to do that is share it with everyone."

Asked if Ashya's parents would allow him to be treated by the NHS, Mr Pask said: "I really don't know. I'm not going to speak for the family."

Asked about the wardship issue, Mr Pask said: "That is one of the legal matters that the lawyers are handling. Ashya's parents can't think about those things, they just need to focus on their family.

"The family is in the same boat as everyone else - we just don't know what will happen next. Let's just wait and see what will happen."

British officials have notified local authorities in Spain that Ashya's parents should not be allowed to take him away, a Materno-Infantil spokeswoman said.

Yesterday's 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 told the BBC she had been "crying and crying" over the torment of not being able to see her son while she and her husband were detained in a Madrid jail.

Mr King has hit out at the treatment they have received since they removed him from Southampton 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 alternatives?', 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 get an immediate court paper to say that they have right over my child.

"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.

"I was in fear."

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

And today the Prime Minister said it appeared that "common sense" had now prevailed, with Ashya's reunion with his parents.

Speaking on ITV1's Good Morning Britain, Mr Cameron said: "I think in the end common sense won out and this poor child has been reunited with his family, but it is tragic they were separated.

"Having had a disabled child often in hospital being fed through a tube, those pictures absolutely meant so much to me, because the thought of having your much loved boy separated from you for all those hours and days, I can't think of anything more painful for a parent."

Speaking outside Southampton General Hospital yesterday, Dr Peter Wilson, chief paediatrician, told Sky News that the family had made it clear that they would like to take Ashya to Prague, but that the hospital had no idea the family had planned to leave.

He said the family were not keen on parts of the treatment which had been suggested, and that there were discussions about different forms of treatment. He added that the hospital had "absolutely not" threatened Mr and Mrs King with an order which would have taken away their right to make decisions about their son's care.

Earlier the Proton Therapy Centre in the Czech Republic claimed it had been sent Ashya's medical records and believed the technique was suitable for him.

A fundraising page set up to help pay for the treatment has so far raised more than £41,000, while Charity Kids'n'CancerUK said they have agreed to pay the £100,000 needed for Ashya's treatment, plus living costs, after donors pledged £35,000 in 24 hours.