June 16, 2018
Charlotte Caldwell with her son Billy – Geoff Pugh
The mother of a severely epileptic boy admitted to hospital in a “life threatening condition” after his cannabis medication was confiscated has said she is “over the moon” the drug has been given back.
Charlotte Caldwell said Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, had made an “historic” decision to grant a licence for cannabis oil to be administered to her 12-year-old son, Billy.
The child had suffered two further seizures overnight while being cared for at a West London hospital after his treatment, illegal in the UK, was confiscated by the Home Office.
Speaking on the steps of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Ms Caldwell, 50, said the drug that she had traveled to Canada to obtain and was seized at Heathrow Airport was being now rushed to her son.
“It’s on it’s way to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and will be administered shortly,” she said.
“Today, this was about Billy. But from tomorrow this is about the thousands of other children in our country.
“My experience leaves me in no doubt that the Home Office can no longer play a role in the administration of medication for sick children in our country.
“Children are dying in our country and it needs to stop now. Billy’s little body has been completely broken and his little mind.
“I truly believe that somewhere in the Home Office there’s someone with a heart and I truly believe that Billy was pulling on their heart strings.”
She vowed to keep up her fight to allow others in the UK to have access to the medication they need.”
Charlotte had cannabis oil, prescribed in Canada for her son Billy’s epilepsy, confiscated at Heathrow airport on her return to the UK Credit: Geoff Pugh for the Telegraph
The move came a few hours after Ms Caldwell said she had been “praying for a miracle” and hoped “common sense would prevail” in her son’s treatment.
In a statement Mr Javid said: “This morning, I’ve used an exceptional power as Home Secretary to urgently issue a licence to allow Billy Caldwell to be treated with cannabis oil.
“This is a very complex situation, but our immediate priority is making sure Billy receives the most effective treatment possible in a safe way.
“We have been in close contact with Billy’s medical team overnight and my decision is based on the advice of senior clinicians who have made clear this is a medical emergency.
“The Policing Minister met with the family on Monday and since then has been working to reach an urgent solution.”
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Ms Caldwell, from Castlederg, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland, said despite her son suffering two further seizures overnight he was stable but still “in crisis”.
Responding to the Home Office move she added that the licensing of cannabis drugs for medical treatment was out of date and not fit for the 21st Century, when a “more humane policy and not panic measures” need to be introduced.
She called on the Home Office, which she earlier said she would hold responsible if Billy died, to “reflect on what they have put me and my family through”.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid Credit: Matt Dunham/AP
She added that she expected her son to be delighted by the development.
“Billy is still tired at the moment and sleeping. As soon as he is able to take this on board I’m sure he will be absolutely delighted,” she said. “As of tomorrow the team will be stepping up to the plate and this [drug] will become available legal – legal, safe, regulated access to medical cannabis for the children of this country.
“I don’t want any other child or family to go through this.”
She said she hoped Mr Javid had learned lessons from her family’s criss, adding that he was an “intelligent man” who would take on board the failings she had experienced.
“I know from Billy using this [drug] that that it has kept his seizures at bay,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion.
“I’m hoping that his seizures will get better controlled and we can move forward.”
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