In the heartbreaking movie John Q, Denzel Washington plays a dad whose nine-year-old son desperately needs a life-saving transplant.https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.440.1_en.html#goog_624639949https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.440.1_en.html#goog_916028324
When the hospital tells him and his wife it will effectively let the boy die unless he can meet a third of the costs of the operation, the couple sell most of their possessions to raise the cash.
But even that isn’t enough. Nowhere near. So John Q – a previously gentle, hard-working, blue collar everyman – snaps and takes patients and hospital staff hostage in the American equivalent of our A&E.
The police and media talk to his neighbours and friends in a bid to establish murderous intent, only to be told by all of them that John Q is actually a good-hearted, honest guy, driven to the brink by the despair of trying to save his son.
It was this movie that came to mind when I read the story of nine-year-old Nathaniel Nabena.
Diagnosed with leukaemia on a medical trip to the UK from his home in Nigeria, Nathaniel is being denied life-saving care unless his mum and dad can somehow stump up £825,000.
His family say he could die “within days” without treatment.
By law, emergency care here is free – but non-Brits have to pay up.
A GoFundMe page has raised £52,000 at the time of writing, but that barely scratches the surface of what dad Ebisidor and mum Modupe need to save their son.
Nathaniel had his left eye removed in his home country Nigeria because of cancer.
He came here to have a £5,000 prosthetic replacement fitted privately in November.
But before starting treatment he was diagnosed with rare acute myeloid leukaemia at South London’s Croydon University Hospital.
He now needs a stem cell transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital but his family must find that £825,000 from somewhere first.
Dad Ebisidor, 45, said: “I am devastated. I can maybe pull together £30,000, a tiny fraction of what they are asking.
“If we cannot raise the funds, hospice care is the next step. We understand rules are rules.
“But for every rule there is an exception – and surely this is it when it comes to a child.”
Is this really what we have become?
Are we really that heartless as a society that we are willing to look the other way while a child takes his final breaths?
Yes, there are a number of things on which people want the public purse to be used.
But the NHS spends around £1.8billion a year on treating visitors from overseas according to 2017 estimates.
Are you telling me we can’t find the cash to save this boy’s life?
Wouldn’t you want a similar kind of sympathy shown to you if you were in Australia or America?
Nobody is suggesting Ebisidor should become a John Q – obviously not. But would you find it as easy to be as dignified in your devastation as Nathaniel’s father?
We are becoming more selfish as a society with every passing day.
But the overwhelming response to this story since it was broken on the Mirror website on Sunday suggests there are still exceptions.
Surely we can make an exception for this boy.