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Family vs. hospital: Parents of ill UK boy fight extradition from Spain

By Danica Kirka

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Sept. 1 2014 12:58 p.m. MDT

Updated: Monday, Sept. 1 2014 12:58 p.m. MDT

In a statement posted on YouTube before their arrest, the family took its case to the public after seeing their names and photographs posted on the Internet. Brett King said he feared being put under a restraining order after he disputed his doctors' advice, citing research he had gleaned on the Internet.

"I realized I can't speak to the oncologists at all because if I actually asked anything or gave them any doubt that I wasn't in full accord with them, they were just going to get a protection order, which meant in his deepest, darkest hour I wouldn't be there to look after him, neither would my wife," he said. "They would prevent us from entering the ward. So under that such a cruel system, I decided to start looking at the proton beam myself."

Proton beam therapy is a targeted type of radiation treatment that increases the chance of killing cancer cells by sending a higher dose of radiation directly to the tumor.

Unlike other types of cancer treatment, it doesn't indiscriminately kill surrounding healthy tissue, so there could be fewer long term effects. But experts say the treatment isn't suitable for children whose tumors are too advanced and need a broader dose of radiation.

In Britain, proton beam therapy is currently only available to treat certain patients with cancer in their eyes. Other countries, including the U.S., Switzerland and Japan, also use proton beam therapy to treat cancers of the spinal cord, brain, prostate, lung and those that affect children.

Britain's health department announced in 2011 it will build two treatment centers to make proton beam therapy available in London and Manchester from 2018. Until those facilities open, Britain will pay for patients eligible for the therapy to go to the U.S. and Switzerland for treatment.

The couple are both Jehovah's Witnesses, but there has been no indication they raised any religious issue about the boy's treatment.

"This has nothing to do with parents abandoning their child or with religious beliefs," the parents' Spanish lawyer, Juan Isidro Fernandez said, adding they brought Ashya to Spain "out of their love for him."

Associated Press writers Jorge Sainz in Madrid contributed to this story.

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