A seriously ill little girl has finally received medicinal cannabis after her mum was stopped trying to bring it into the UK.
Emma Appleby, from Aylesham, travelled to Holland this month to bring back a three-month dose of THC oil and cannabidiol (CBD) to help her nine-year-old daughter Teagan – who suffers an acute form of epilepsy caused by rare chromosome deficiency called Isodicentric 15.
Late last year, the youngster was given cannabis-based medication Epidiolex at the Evelina Childrenâ€™s Hospital – which initially worked, stopping all her seizures while she was awake, although not while she slept.
But the effect plateaued and since February she has suffered aggressive fits, causing her to stop breathing, turn grey and rely on rescue medicine to save her life.
Miss Appleby wanted Teagan, who previously suffered up to 300 fits a day, to be treated with THC – tetrahydrocannabinol – the strongest form of cannabis treatment, believing it will prevent all her seizures.
But this is not readily prescribed by doctors, despite a change in law on November 1, 2018, making it legal for neurologists and other specialists to prescribe medical products derived from cannabis.
This led to Miss Appleby taking matters into her own hands and travelling to Holland to obtain the medication.
But she was devastated when the medication was confiscated by officials when she arrived at Southend Airport on Saturday 6 – although she was told by the government that if she could get approval from a British doctor and an import licence, she might be able to get the seized medicine back.
A petition to return the medication to poorly Teagan quickly amassed more than 90,000 signatures.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said “it is not possible to import controlled drugs” without the approval of a British doctor, but he added “we have made available the opportunity for a second opinion”.
Now, they have finally received the drugs, and have begun administering it to Teagan.
Miss Appleby said: “We picked it up on Saturday. Teagan was at respite for some of the weekend, but she came home last night and we started with the oil then.
“Now it’s just a case of waiting to see how it goes.
“People have said it can take quite a few weeks to kick in, but because she’s been on a cannabis product already, hopefully it won’t take as long because it should just start working sooner.
WATCH: Teagan’s mum explains the benefits of the cannabis medication
“Now we just need to wait and see what happens, really.
“The oil goes in her mouth and has to go under her tongue. I thought it would be quite difficult because it’s thick and black and it smells like cannabis – it’s a horrible smell, but she’s taking it fine.”
Miss Appleby has enough medication to last Teagan for three months, but hopes the NHS will make it easier to access more after it runs out.
“We’re urging the NHS to put it on prescription,” she said. “We’re working with them now and asking if they’ll do a prescription for her for the next batch.”
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