A boy diagnosed with leukaemia while in the UK has been told he must pay £825,000 for a lifesaving operation through the NHS.
Nathaniel Nabena, 8, could have just days to live, according to his family.
The youngster, who is from Lagos, Nigeria, flew to the UK in November to have a £5,000 prosthetic eye fitted his left eye was removed because of a tumour, the Mirror reports.
But he began having a fever and nosebleeds before treatment started. He was later diagnosed with the rare acute myeloid leukaemia at Croydon University Hospital in south London.
Now Nathaniel has been told he must pay £825,000 for a stem cell transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
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Patients from non-EU countries are charged 150% of the NHS national tariff for hospital treatment, unless exempt.
Dad Ebisidor, 45, told the Mirror: “If we cannot raise the funds, hospice care is the next step.
"We are devastated. This is his last hope – except for a miracle.
“We came here hoping to fix his eye and take him home, and now he might die in weeks or maybe even days.
“I can maybe pull together £30,000, a tiny fraction of what they are asking.
“We understand rules are rules. But for every rule there’s an exception – and surely that is when it comes to a child.
“Nathaniel is worried and keeps asking why he is treated differently because he’s from a different country.”
About £1.3bn was collected from chargeable overseas visitors who had NHS treatment from 2015-19.
By law, emergency care is free, but non-Brits pay if admitted to hospital.
Croydon NHS Trust said: “Our hearts go out to Nathaniel and we are doing everything we can to care for him.”
Great Ormond Street said the £825,000 fee covers tests, chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
A spokesman said it had to ensure funds were available in advance.
Nathaniel’s family, including mother Modupe, 38, and sisters Nadia, 11, and 20-month-old Nicole, spent £2,000 on flights to the UK. They are staying with relatives in Croydon.
A Go Fund Me page has raised £12,000 so far.
Parents 'don't have the guts' to tell daughter, 6, she has two years to live
Ebisidor, a business analyst, added: “We will never stop fighting for Nathaniel.
“He is a bright, wonderful child that has so many gifts to give back to the world.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “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.”
A GOSH spokesperson said: “Like many hospitals, we offer private treatment options to families – often from overseas – who are not eligible for NHS care.
"It is important that we ensure that the funds are available to pay for this type of care prior to it starting.”
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