It's every parent's worst nightmare to see their child in pain. Yet this is the awful reality Emma Appleby has faced for so long.
Her beautiful daughter Teagan was born with the rare condition Isodicentric 15, a severe form of epilepsy. She is wheelchair-bound and can suffer up to 300 seizures a day. Earlier this year she required life-saving treatment five times in just eight days.
Emma had tried everything to ease her nine-year-old daughter's suffering, as any parent would. Yet nothing seemed to work. In July she got in touch with me to see if I could help.
Emma was fighting to get a license granted for little Teagan to have cannabis oil treatment. With known medication failing, the only other alternative suggested was for her to have risky procedures on her brain.
I felt strongly that Teagan should be given a chance. We were reading in the news of other youngsters being granted cannabis oil treatment. Clinical trials showed it helped dramatically reduce seizures. My view was that if we are prescribing patients morphine – which like heroin, is sourced from opium – then why should we not prescribe cannabis for medicinal purposes? This isn't about legalising cannabis for recreational use – that is just an unwelcome distraction. This is about helping children in severe pain.
That's why I urged the Home Secretary to intervene in Teagan's case. And in October he announced cannabis could be medically-prescribed by specialist consultants. Yet Teagan's treatment was still delayed, firstly due to restrictive guidelines drawn up by the NHS and then due to supply issues.
Without the help she needed, Teagan was soon back in intensive care suffering terrible seizures. I contacted the chief executive of the Trust which runs Evelina Childen's Hospital where she was being looked after. Kent-based GW Pharmaceuticals was eventually permitted to supply cannabis-based Epidiolex to Teagan's doctors.
Last week, I visited Emma and Teagan at their home in Aylesham to see how they were getting on. Teagan sat and watched Mickey Mouse on her iPad while Emma told me how she had been able to continue on the drug since leaving hospital. Things have definitely improved but Teagan is still suffering seizures during her sleep.
Emma's next fight is to get the stronger, THC form of cannabis treatment approved for her daughter, to see if that can put a stop to the seizures altogether. Emma hopes Teagan will return to school at the brilliant Whitfield & Aspen.
I was struck by how hard Emma has to fight, day in day out, for her daughter – and at times what a lonely and exhausting battle that must be. Yet her love for Teagan shines through. She will not stop until Teagan gets the help she needs.
I am determined to help. I will do everything I can to make sure the bureaucrats do not stand in Emma and Teagan's way. Common sense must prevail.
Teagan must be given every chance for a better life.
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