Rong Rong is suspected of having orbital rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects children. Pix courtesy of SCMP

HONG KONG: A five-year-old boy has apparently been abandoned by his parents at a hospital in southern China after doctors discovered he has a malignant tumour, according to Chinese media reports.

The boy, who was identified by the nickname ‘Rong Rong’, is suspected of having orbital rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects children, Guangzhou Daily reported on Thursday.

Medical staff at the hospital in Foshan, Guangdong province, warned that they were running out of time to treat the boy, but legally, they cannot do so without written permission from the family.

The boy was taken to the hospital by his father on Oct 10 suffering from dehydration and struggling to stand up, Zhang Li, head nurse of the hospital, was quoted as saying.

Rong Rong was diagnosed as having a malignant tumour in his pelvic cavity, but his father refused to allow tests of the tissue to make a diagnosis.

Treatments of this type, such as a biopsy, require written permission from family members under mainland Chinese law.

The boy’s father left the hospital on Oct 23, the report said, and told medical staff in a telephone call that he needed to find money for the treatment.

He did not reappear until Monday, a day after the hospital reported his absence to the police.

He gave a verbal agreement for the further examination of his son, but the hospital lost contact with him that night and he has not returned.

The boy weighs only 15kg, well below the average for other children that age, and is too weak even to eat congee so nurses have had to feed him with powdered milk.

Hospital staff have also been bringing in their own children’s clothes for him.

The report said the hospital had lost contact with the boy’s mother.

The hospital can help Rong Rong to apply for financial aid from the government, but the application cannot be submitted without written parental approval.

“The tumour has grown bigger in the boy’s body, nearly to his belly button,” said Liu Guoqing, a doctor with the hospital.

“At a late stage in the cancer, we will lose the chance to cure him.

“We don’t know whether we still have any chance. Even if the surgery is done, there will be a lot of post-operative treatment. We are just hoping his parents will come back to stay with the child.”

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