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Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Young Co Down girl admitted to hospital during wait for medicinal cannabis license

Written by Rebecca Black

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, six, 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.

On Tuesday Sophia was rushed to hospital 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.

Previously Sophia was treated with the medication when her family took her to the Netherlands.

Her mother Danielle told the Press Association 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 am just praying she makes it through the night.

"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 earlier on Tuesday 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.

"This afternoon Sophia had a very bad seizure lasting near an hour which has resulted in Sophia being sedated and placed on life support.

"Danielle is currently with her at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where Sophia is critical.

"We can't reply to everyone individually that have already sent messages or phone calls but we appreciate it and will up date you as we and the family know more."

Hannah Deacon from Warwickshire, whose son Alfie Dingley, who also suffers with epilepsy, expressed her concern over Sophia's condition.

She brought medicinal cannabis oil home to the UK from Amsterdam on Tuesday after licences were granted for her son, Alfie Dingley, to be treated with the drug for his rare condition.

"She's actually in hospital in intensive care because she doesn't have her medication which is proven to work," she said.

"And I'm urging the Home Office today to issue an emergency licence for her. She's proven that it works.

"We need to act quickly.

"We've suffered so much, these people shouldn't suffer.

"The Gibson's have proven that it works for their daughter Sophia and I'm urging the Home Office, our Government and the health department in Northern Ireland to make sure this licence is issued urgently.

"It's horrendous that another child is suffering again because of bureaucracy."

Last week Billy Caldwell from Castlederg, Co Tyrone was granted a licence to be treated with medicinal cannabis.

He suffers from a severe form of epilepsy.

His mother Charlotte says the medication helps to control his seizures.

The use of medicinal cannabis is currently strictly limited in the UK.

However that is currently under review by the Home Office.

But Home Secretary Sajid Javid stressed the drug would remain banned for recreational use.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Family Handout / PA Wire.