Mother of severely epileptic child has confiscated medical cannabis returned

The mother of a severely epileptic child has said she is “overjoyed” to have her confiscated medical cannabis returned after negotiating “bureaucratic trauma”.

Emma Appleby received the supply of cannabis oils for nine-year-old daughter Teagan, who suffers up to 300 seizures a day, from the Government on Friday.

Border Force seized the items, which cost £4,600, as campaigner Mrs Appleby and her partner Lee landed at Southend Airport in Essex on Saturday after visiting the Netherlands.

The family, from Aylesham near Dover, had flown out on Thursday and had the medicine prescribed by a paediatric neurologist in Rotterdam.

But, after it was seized, they had to obtain a prescription from a specialist UK consultant.

Mrs Appleby said: “This has been one of the most stressful weeks of my life, and life caring for a child with intractable epilepsy is plenty stressful enough.

“We only went to Holland out of sheer desperation.

“We’d fought for months to get access to medical cannabis in this country but were blocked at every turn even though it’s now legal here.

Medicinal cannabis
Teagan Appleby (Family/PA)

“But overjoyed as I am, my heart goes out to those other families with severely epileptic children who are in the depths of despair.

“Neither I, nor they, should be put through this bureaucratic trauma. The system just isn’t working.”

Teagan suffers from rare chromosomal disorder Isodicentric 15 as well as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe case of epilepsy.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock tweeted on Friday: “Happy to say that Teagan Appleby’s cannabis-based medicine has arrived and is ready to be collected.

“We are working hard across government to ensure we get these medicines to those who need them.”

Medical cannabis confiscated at airport
Emma Appleby (left), Lee Moore and their daughter Teagan (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The law in the UK was changed last November to make access to medical cannabis legal but parents have been struggling to secure prescriptions, in part due to reluctance within the medical community.

NHS England guidance says it expects that cannabis-based products for medicinal use should “only be prescribed for indications where there is clear published evidence of benefit” and in “patients where there is a clinical need which cannot be met by a licensed medicine and where established treatment options have been exhausted”.

Mr Hancock said in the Commons last month that his “heart goes out” to parents experiencing anguish over difficulties in obtaining medicinal cannabis.

He said he is working to “unblock” some of the challenges in the system but, ultimately, “these things need to be clinician-led”.

Mrs Appleby added she wanted Mr Hancock to “follow through on his recent supportive words and unblock the system”.

She said: “Those with the power to sort this need to, and fast.”

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