Five-year-old cancer patient Ashya King could soon receive proton beam radiation treatment in Prague. The boy has been the centre of media attention in the UK after his parents removed him from a hospital in England in a bid to get better treatment; they were arrested in Spain but have subsequently been released. Now all eyes are on Prague’s Proton Therapy Centre, where Ashya could be admitted in the not too distant future. I discussed the latest situation surrounding his treatment with the institution’s director of strategy Iva Taťounová.
“Yesterday during the night we received all the necessary documentation. At 8 o’clock in the morning yesterday our concilium finally had a chance to review all the documents, because we previously didn’t have them. And we were able to say that Ashya can be treated here.
“Last night we received additional scans. We have communication from the hospital in Southampton. The doctors informed us that they think, they understand from the situation, that the parents would like Ashya to be treated here in Prague.”
For people who don’t know it, why is proton beam radiation treatment particularly suitable for this boy Ashya?
“Well, protons are better for children because they treat tumours with millimeter precision. The proton treatment greatly reduces the radiation exposure to healthy vital organs and tissues.
“Of course it increases the possibility of a complete cure. We can maintain vitality and the child doesn’t have to compromise the quality of life. It also greatly reduces the possibility of secondary tumours later in life.”
“Dr. Nicolin, his doctor in the UK, is suggesting two cycles of chemotherapy and then he would refer him to Prague. We don’t whether or if this is the case… because they probably don’t have agreement with the King family as to if this is going to be done. And if, yes, whether, because it can be done in Spain or the UK or here.
“To be specific with the dates, it could be from let’s say Monday until five weeks from now. We don’t know.”
Why are his parents interested in Prague in particular? Why your institution?
“Well, we are the most modern proton therapy centre in Europe. And in the UK this most modern method of proton beam therapy is not available.”
Are you a little concerned that there could be a media circus when he does arrive? Because there’s so much interest in his story in the UK.
“Oh, yes. Our prayers and thoughts are with the family. It must be a very difficult and stressful time for them. And I just hope that everybody will behave correctly and give them some space for their own life and time with their kid.
“They are experiencing a very difficult situation in their life, not only with this [media] situation but, you know, having a kid who is sick must be very, very difficult.”
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