Bioethics News

Hospital care. An ethical reflection on the Ashya King case

Hospital care ethics? It seems unacceptable that the English hospital could not allow the parents to use the therapy that they, with scientific information, preferred and Hospital could not give.

Media coverage of the case of Ashya King, a 5-year-old English boy with hospital care wich was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour, has done little to clarify the drastic measures taken by the English authorities, after a complaint was filed against his parents by Southampton General Hospital, for having deprived a minor with a life-threatening condition of proper medical care.

Parents Odyssey

The parents had stated since the child had been diagnosed with medulloblastoma (a type of serious brain cancer) that they did not wish to subject him to the intensive radiotherapy treatment proposed by the hospital, as they considered it very aggressive; moreover, they also believed that the most serious side effects could be avoided with proton therapy. When the hospital told them that they could not receive any other treatment apart from the one they could offer, they decided to flee the country without seeking medical approval in order to avoid further delays, taking advantage of temporary approved leave while the child recovered satisfactorily from an operation. Hence, they came to Spain on 28th August this year, with the intention of selling their house in Malaga, to meet the very high costs of the chosen treatment and to be able to go immediately to Prague so that the boy could undergo the aforementioned therapy.

As a result of the European arrest order imposed on the parents following the complaint by the English health authorities, they were arrested by Spanish police in Malaga and kept in isolation for several days, during which time, the child remained in hospital.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.