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Billy Caldwell's mum wins right to treat him at home as Sophia (6) on life support

By Staff Reporter

A 12-year-old Co Tyrone boy with epilepsy at the centre of a campaign to see cannabis oil licensed for medicinal use in the UK will now be able to receive the drug at home.

Billy Caldwell returned home to Northern Ireland last Thursday from London. He had been there for three weeks, receiving medical treatment.

The Home Office gave Billy, who has a rare form of epilepsy, a short-term licence to allow him access to cannabis oil, which his mother Charlotte says helps to control his seizures.

The Belfast Health Trust secured a licence for medicinal cannabis, meaning it could administer the medication to Billy at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

Ms Caldwell expressed frustration over the arrangement at a hospital which is a two-hour drive from their home in Castlederg, Co Tyrone.

She said at the time: "Billy has effectively been placed under hospital arrest."

She emphasised that her son, who has also been diagnosed with autism, needs to be at home in familiar surroundings.

But in a statement yesterday, the Trust said: "We are pleased to confirm that from this evening Billy Caldwell will be able to receive his medication at his home. This is a very satisfactory outcome for Billy and his mother while the Expert Panel considers the longer-term licence application."

Meanwhile, a young girl from Co Down waiting to hear if she has been granted a licence to be treated with medicinal cannabis oil, has been admitted to hospital.

Sophia Gibson (6) from Newtownards, suffers from a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome.

Her parents, Danielle and Darren say the medication relieves their daughter's condition.

Sophia was rushed to hospital yesterday after becoming unwell.

She is being treated in the intensive care unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Her family has applied for a licence for her to be treated with cannabis oil in Northern Ireland.

Her mother Danielle said Sophia suffered a seizure so severe she had to be placed in an induced coma.

"How much more Sophia can take of this, I just don't know," she said. "I just hope she has enough fight in her to keep going. No parent wants to see their child like this, and there are so many other children like Sophia, something needs to be done, there has been too much stalling (around medicinal cannabis)."

In a statement yesterday evening, Sophia's family said she has been placed on life support.

"Sophia needs everyone's prayers and well-wishes more than ever," they said. "Danielle is currently with her at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where Sophia is critical."

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