The story of Ashya King has been widely reported by the press this week. The severely ill, five year old boy was taken from his hospital bed while being treated for a brain tumour. It was thought that this posed a severe risk to his health as he had just had major surgery and needs food and fluids through a nasogastric tube.
It was recommended by doctors that Ashya had chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However Ashya’s parents felt that he should not have chemotherapy and proton beam treatments which is not recommended for medulloblastomas [the cancer that Aysha suffers from].Competent adult patients have the right to refuse their doctor’s advice and may make what is regarded by some as foolish decisions but can society stand by and let parents make decisions that may endanger the life of their child? This case is similar to that of Neon Roberts who had a similar brain tumour. His mother wanted alternative treatment rather than chemotherapy and radiotherapy. A judge at the time sympathised with the mother but felt that she could not be trusted to comply with the treatment her son needed and he was removed from her custody and made a ward of court so he would get the treatment his doctors recommended.