The life of a five-year-old boy with a brain tumor hangs in the balance after his Jehovah’s Witness parents took him from his hospital bed and fled the country with him.
Ashya King was receiving “constant medical care within the UK due to recent surgery and ongoing medical issues” according to Hampshire police.
But his parents, Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45, removed him from his ward on Thursday afternoon and are now on the run – believed to be headed to Spain.
“The need to find Ashya is now desperate. It is really important that we find him and ensure he receives medical attention at the earliest opportunity,” Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead has told Sky News.
Ashya is likely to be in a wheelchair or buggy, cannot communicate verbally and is immobile, according to police.
Though it is still too early to know for certain what Ashya’s parents’ motives are, it is worth noting that the issue of Jehovah’s Witness parents imposing their religious beliefs on children when it comes to medical treatment is a growing concern internationally.
Increasingly the legal system is being called upon to grant doctors the powers needed to give Witness children life-saving medical treatment that would otherwise be deprived them by their parents due to Watchtower teachings about blood, which have only been in place since 1945.
It would appear the Jehovah’s Witness community is already closing ranks in defense of the Kings’ actions.
One post on the Hampshire Constabulary’s Facebook page read: “This is my mother’s friend, she has run away in desperation because they cannot accept that there is nothing that can be done for their son and want to look for help abroad. Please don’t judge, they are a very sweet loving family and I can only believe they are doing this because they want to help their son.”
If you know the King family or have information as to their whereabouts, please contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101, quoting “Operation Aquilion” (the number is 0044 1962 841534 if calling from outside the UK).
Since this article was published, Ashya and his family have been found in Spain. It has emerged that, thankfully, refusal of blood was likely NOT a factor in Brett and Neghemeh absconding with their son. In the interests of fairness, I am posting the King family’s video where they explain their motivations themselves. Please read this update to the story.