Belfast Telegraph

Billy Caldwell fighting for life in hospital following increase in seizures

Charlotte Caldwell and her son Billy outside the Home Office in London (Yui Mok/PA)
Charlotte Caldwell and her son Billy outside the Home Office in London (Yui Mok/PA)

Northern Irish boy Billy Caldwell has been rushed to hospital following an increase in seizures.

The situation is now described by doctors in Canada and Northern Ireland familiar with Billy's case as being 'life-threatening'.

Billy's anti-epileptic medication was confiscated at Heathrow Airport on Monday morning, and his family say he has suffered a sudden increase in frequency and intensity of seizures.

The Castlederg boy is currently receiving treatment at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Billy's mum Charlotte said he is now too ill to travel back to Canada for treatment meaning the only effective medication is locked in secure storage in the Home Office in London.

Ms Caldwell has become increasingly concerned and took Billy to St Mary's Hospital at 9pm on Thursday night for assessment and treatment where doctors were "horrified" that Billy was being deprived of his medication.

Billy has had back-to-back seizures on Friday. On his medication, which included the vital but banned THC component, he was seizure-free for more than 300 days.

Canadian doctors aware of both Billy's condition and the Home Office's situation have been trying without success to speak with Home Office recommended paediatric consultant Dr David McCormick who has so far refused to see Billy.

"This is beyond cruelty. We've now reached the point where Billy is too ill to travel to get his medication, but his medication is stored minutes away from where we're now living in London," said Charlotte Caldwell.

"Despite the best and honest efforts of the NHS, frontline doctors are fighting Billy's condition with both hands tied behind their back because the only medication that will be effective is the cannabis oil with CBD and THC. Those meds need to be released immediately.

"If Billy dies, which is looking increasingly possible, then the Home Office, and Nick Hurd, will be held completely accountable."

Earlier on Friday it was revealed Billy and Charlotte had decamped to London to continue their fight for access to the drug.

It comes after a week in which the case of the Co Tyrone 12-year-old and his difficulties accessing a drug his mother described as "life-saving" has made national headlines.

Billy, 12, last year became the first person in the UK to receive a prescription for medicinal cannabis, but it was stopped earlier this year after the family's doctor was ordered to stop the prescription by the Home Office.

Billy Caldwell with his mother Charlotte

Billy suffered his first seizure in almost a year after his treatment was withdrawn.

MPs from across the UK have spoken out about the plight of Billy Caldwell, and all of Northern Ireland's main political parties have given their support to the youngster.

Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley for Billy's home constituency of West Tyrone called for an urgent intervention by the British Home Office.

“Along with Billy’s mother, I met with Nick Hurd the British Minister for Policing and the Fire Service to ask the British Government to find a way to allow Billy the medication which will ease his suffering," she said.

“The situation has now become all the more urgent following Billy’s admission to hospital and it simply isn’t good enough for the cruel denial of his medication to continue.

“The Home Office say he can have access to the medicinal cannabis that has been so effective provided a clinician can advise that this is appropriate in his case.

“Given the seriousness of the current situation, they must make now make this an urgent priority and intervene to ensure that is done and Billy is allowed to resume his medication.”

The family later said Billy has been admitted to hospital as doctors said it is too dangerous to treat him with "rescue meds" at home.

He can now be treated only with hospital-administered medication.

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