Teagan Appleby, nine-years-old and from Aylesham, is wheelchair-bound and can suffer up to 300 seizures a day. Little Teagan was born with the rare condition Isodicentric 15, a severe form of epilepsy. Last year she required life-saving treatment five times in just eight days.
Teagan's mum Emma tried everything to ease her nine-year-old daughter's pain. The one thing she couldn't try was cannabis oil – despite NHS trials showing it could dramatically reduce epileptic seizures. The alternative suggested by doctors was Teagan having risky procedures on her brain.
Understandably, Emma has been fighting to get a licence granted for Teagan to get cannabis oil treatment. Of course cannabis is a banned drug for recreational use. Yet so too is heroin. That does not stop us using it for medical treatment as morphine. Should we licence the use of medicinal cannabis to help people who are suffering like Teagan? That was the key question in a Parliamentary debate this week where I spoke in support of Teagan and why we should be brave enough to use new medicines if they will work.
This isn't about legalising cannabis for recreational use. This is about medicine that can help children in severe pain. That's why I urged the Home Secretary to intervene in Teagan's case – and welcome that he did so. Last 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.
I have visited Emma and Teagan at their home in Aylesham. Teagan is so charming. Things had definitely improved but Teagan was still suffering seizures during her sleep. Emma then started fighting to get the stronger, THC form of cannabis treatment approved, to see if that could put a stop to the seizures altogether. She went to mainland Europe but it was seized on her return.
After a battle we got it returned to her and a prescription was issued. Emma tells me Teagan's condition has improved greatly. She now goes whole days without seizures – something that was extremely rare before. She can now walk short distances too.
Yet the battle is not over. Her doctor has issued a fresh prescription. But Teagan is still waiting for NHS funding for the treatment. Meanwhile she faces forking out thousands more to import the product from abroad.
Parents should not have to fight so hard for something as fundamental as their kids' health. They should be supported and helped.
That's why I have been determined to help and been speaking up for the family in Parliament. I will do everything I can to make sure the system does not stand in Emma and Teagan's way. Teagan must be given every chance for a better life.
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