The parents of brain tumour survivor Ashya King say they have no regrets about taking their son out of hospital after revealing he is making ‘amazing’ progress.
Appearing on Loose Women, Ashya was seen playing football and riding his bike around his Hampshire home, enjoying childhood just like any other young boy.
He told presenter Stacey Solomon he enjoyed playing with Lego and watching his favourite films, the Narnia series, and even took part in a bike race with her.
His parents Brett and Naghmeh sparked an international manhunt in August 2014 when they took their son out of Southampton General Hospital against doctors’ wishes in an attempt to reach Prague where they could get proton beam therapy treatment for his rare cancer.
Brain tumour survivor Ashya King, pictured on Loose Women, was shown enjoying his childhood four years after his disappearance from a hospital in Southampton sparked an international manhunt for his parents
Meeting presenter Stacey Solomon, he came across as a typical young boy enjoying bike rides, pictured, watching his favourite films and spending time with his family
Ashya was also seen playing football in his garden with his sibling and Stacey, pictured
Ashya, pictured in 2014, was taken out of hospital to Spain by parents Brett and Naghmeh, with the family arrested before they could take him to Prague for experimental proton beam therapy ‘denied’ to them by the NHS
They had been denied funding for the treatment for his condition – called medulloblastoma – in Britain by the NHS, and told the Loose Women panel they still are still at odds with medics over what the best course of action was.
Speaking about her son’s recovery, his mother said: ‘It’s amazing. It’s the sort of progress we as parents wanted him to make. We are thrilled.’
Mr King added: ‘He is not completely out of the woods but he is getting there. The amount of blessings we have had with him from him being paralysed in a bed to him being up and walking and playing with his sister and the dog is amazing. He’s coming on fine.
‘His brain has had a big trauma and is now rewiring itself.’
The couple said they still ‘don’t understand’ why they were arrested in Spain after taking Ashya there for an initial MRI scan and added the NHS now support the treatment after the incident.
‘We were quite verbal about it; we weren’t ‘arguing’ but we knew what we wanted for Ashya.
‘Everyone in the medical community knew what proton beam therapy was and for little children receiving this evasive cancer treatment it just seemed so logical.
‘In America they treat most children with a proton beam.
‘If they can statistically prove proton is better they will fund it but it was not clear with Ashya’s type of cancer. Now they do fund it.’
Mr and Mrs King, pictured with Stacey on Loose Women, said they did not regret their actions and still dispute the course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment recommended by the NHS
The parents said Ashya was making ‘amazing’ progress and said they were ‘blessed’ that he has gone from being ‘paralysed’ in a hospital bed to playing with his family and the dog
Ashya told Stacey, pictured, his favourite toy was Lego and his favourite films were the Narnia series
Mrs King added: ‘We thought there might be some problem so we decided to all go as a family.
‘We suggested at first that I stay in England and that he (Brett) would take him to Spain and then to the Czech Republic.
‘But now looking back it was the best thing that we all went. It was a bit of a shock because it was only when we were travelling through France that we realised via internet that police were chasing us.’
Mr King said it was a surprise they were arrested because he believed the worst that would happen was that the local council would become involved in their care.
His father Brett said they did not expect to be arrested when they took him from Southampton General Hospital, pictured, against doctors’ advice in 2014
He said: ‘I looked it up because we had been told before if we were in complete disagreement what would happen; we knew it could be an eventuality that Ashya would be taken away from us.
‘We looked it up and I thought the maximum they could do was get the council involved and they would come around to see if we were in the house, and as far as I could see they couldn’t force entry.
‘We were taking Ashya out for two to three hours at a time and we saw children come in, have the treatment, and leave.
‘The only thing keeping Ashya there was because his body was paralysed. When his body was challenged by being put in a wheelchair or out in the sunlight he did respond very well.
‘We wanted to see how he could cope with all this travelling and we made the decision he was doing fine and he was strong enough to get the treatment that we want.’
Mrs King added: ‘They [doctors] said he had to stay in Southampton and the treatment they would give him was chemotherapy, radiation and chemotherapy, called the sandwich protocol, and a lot of children haven’t survived that treatment.’
The sympathetic panel told the parents they ‘could not imagine’ what they went through and were all very glad to see the child recovering so well.
The whole family went on the trip to Spain, where they were held for several days upon their parents arrest. They are pictured saying goodbye to Stacey on Loose Women
A High Court judge eventually approved Ashya’s treatment in Prague, while proton beam therapy is set to become common in the UK with new cancer centres being set up
Mr King added: ‘There’s no healthy child with cancer but Ashya was at the other end of the spectrum; he was very ill.
‘They wanted to give him more chemo than a child who could walk around. He was already having problems with his stomach and one of the side effects was vomiting.’
A High Court judge eventually approved the move to take Ashya to Prague for proton therapy after the parents were brought back to the UK.
But a report published by Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Board found their actions had ‘put him at risk’.
The proton therapy was not offered to Ashya on the NHS, although the health service later agreed to fund his treatment. Several new proton beam therapy centres will open in the UK from next year.
A spokesperson for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust told MailOnline last year: ‘From the moment we performed life-saving surgery to remove Ashya’s brain tumour, our interest was only ever in providing the best and care and treatment for him.
‘We cooperated fully with his parents and were in the process of arranging a safe transfer to the Proton Therapy Center in Prague at their request when he was removed from our hospital without warning.
‘We have, and always will, dispute the King family’s version of events.’
PROTON BEAM TREATMENT FINALLY ARRIVES IN UK…
The UK’s first cancer-fighting proton beam therapy machine has arrived in the country
The UK’s first cancer-fighting proton beam therapy machine has arrived in the country.
The revolutionary technology was previously only available overseas, but the arrival of the 55-ton cyclotron accelerator machine will complete the final phase of a cancer centre being built in Newport, South Wales.
The £17 million machine will take a year to install at the Rutherford Cancer Centre and is expected to treat 500 patients a year.
The therapy uses a high-energy beam of protons, rather than X-rays, to deliver radiotherapy for patients, reducing the risk of damage to surrounding healthy organs.
The Newport centre is one of several being built by Proton Partners International across the UK, which will offer proton beam therapy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Previously, British patients would have to travel overseas to receive proton beam therapy.
Professor Gordon McVie, chairman of Proton Partners International, said: ‘This is a milestone for cancer treatment in the UK.
‘We are committed to transforming cancer care and that is why we are installing the most advanced proton therapy technology available.
The revolutionary technology was previously only available overseas, but the arrival of the 55-ton cyclotron accelerator machine will complete the final phase of a cancer centre being built in Newport, South Wales
‘Around 10% of cancer patients will benefit from proton beam therapy by having significantly less long-term side effects.
‘The availability of this treatment in the UK will mean over time that patients will no longer have to endure travelling abroad for treatment, which is the case at present.’
Treatment at The Rutherford Cancer Centres will be available to medically insured private patients, self-paying patients and patients referred by the NHS.
The Welsh Government, through its Wales Life Sciences Investment Fund (WLSIF), has a stake in Proton Partners International.