8-year-old denied life-saving surgery until $1.5 million fee is paid
A Nigerian boy travelled with his parents to the UK for a small surgery then discovered he had cancer but a quirk in the system means the life-saving surgery is out of reach.
His parents will be required to pay £885,000 (AU$1,580,000) up front before the NHS can legally operate on him.
Nathaniel Nabena had one of his eyes removed in Nigeria in order to treat the cancer and stop its spread.
But then in November last year, he travelled to the UK to be fitted with a prostethic eye.
The surgery was meant to be quick and painless but the 8-year-old soon fell sick and tests revealed he had leukaemia.
Nathaniel desperately needs a stem cell transplant to stay alive, but doctors won’t operate on him until his parents pay the fee - which is so high because patients from non-EU countries are charged 150 per cent of the NHS price for hospital treatment.
“If we do not manage to raise the funds, we have been told that hospice care is the next step,” his father Ebisidor wrote on a GoFundMe page.
Nathaniel has been battling cancer for the past three years, and his parents believed the worst was over before they were hit with the leukaemia diagnosis.
He had a myeloid sarcoma under his left eye which caused it to swell up so badly, removal was the only option.
Nathaniel is currently in the Croydon University Hospital.
Medical practitioners are charging £825,000 to cover their expenses for tests, chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
Nathaniel’s dad described his son as “a bright, wonderful child”.
“It has been a long, hard journey but we will never stop fighting for Nathaniel. He deserves a life free of cancer,” Ebisidor Nabena said.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told The Sun in a statement: “Every taxpayer supports the health service and so it is only right that overseas visitors contribute towards their treatment costs.
“As the rules stand, NHS care must be paid for in advance of providing non-urgent treatment and any debts that do arise from providing urgent care will be followed up with.
“The NHS will always provide high standards of care for those who need it and repayment plans can be agreed with the provider.”
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