Belfast Telegraph

Now we fight on for others, vow Sophia's parents after medicinal cannabis victory

By Jemma Gardiner

The parents of a Newtownards girl who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy are to campaign for other families after receiving a lifetime licence to treat her with medicinal cannabis.

Sophia Gibson's mum Danielle told of her excitement that her daughter can now enjoy her childhood and explore the world around her.

The seven-year-old, who has Dravet syndrome, was placed in intensive care on Tuesday after suffering a severe hour-long seizure.

The Home Office expert panel that deals with applications for the use of medical cannabis reviewed her case on Thursday, and yesterday granted her the licence.

She is the first child in the UK to be given a long-term licence by the new panel.

Despite their elation, Danielle and husband Darren said their campaign was only beginning.

Danielle explained: "We can't help thinking about all the other families and adults that need it.

"We will continue to work to make it more easily accessible for others that need it.

"We hope no other person's life is put at risk the way Sophia's was on Tuesday."

She added that although the medication will not stop Sophia's seizures, it will make them significantly less frequent and severe.

The youngster was previously treated with the medication when her parents took her to the Netherlands, but until yesterday's decision they were unable to use it at home legally.

The family had previously gone through an 18-month application process, before being told they had to reapply through the newly established Home Office expert panel.

Yesterday's decision will allow them to travel to Holland and bring back her medication legally.

It will also begin the process of facilitating the supply through the NHS.

The family are now looking forward to restoring a degree of normality to little Sophia's life.

Danielle said: "We had a birthday party for her a few years ago and she fitted after 10 minutes.

"It's horrible what she's been through.

"We can't wait to enjoy family days out together."

The decision comes only weeks after Co Tyrone boy Billy Caldwell, who also suffers from severe epilepsy, won the right to have his cannabis oil medication administered at his home instead of in hospital.

His mum Charlotte was at the centre of a campaign to get a licence for 12-year-old Billy's medication, and was granted a short-term licence for access.

Belfast Telegraph

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