Ava Barry from Aghabullogue, Co Cork, in Ireland, is finally home and is reunited with her siblings after being granted medical cannabis license by the government.
Eight-year-old Ava suffers from a severe and drug-resistant form of epilepsy called Dravets Syndrome. Ava was having up to 23 seizures a day, and her parents constantly feared they would lose their daughter in the course of one of her seizures. Because of this, they decided to give medical cannabis a try.
However, because she couldn’t get easy and expedited legal access to medical cannabis under Irish law, Ava and her parents had to go The Hague, in the Netherlands, last summer in order to avail of the treatment that works for her medical condition.
According to Ava’s mother, Vera Twomey, they now know that THC and CBD oil work, and that the little girl has gotten better each day and has been seizure-free since using it. She attests that THC has saved her daughter’s life and changed it for the better. Vera said that medical cannabis is the “most humane” kind of medication.
Ava and her parents had rented an apartment in The Hague. She was under the care of a neurologist there who has also been monitoring the use of a certain form of cannabis. The girl’s seizures had entirely stopped since she started to take one drop of CBD oil three times daily.
Before going to the Netherlands, where Ava became a “medicinal cannabis refugee,” Vera had travelled to Spain in order to get a prescription for medical marijuana. However, the drug was confiscated when she arrived at Dublin Airport.
Vera and her husband, Paul, led a campaign to allow Ava to access medical cannabis products – particularly cannabis oil – in Ireland. Late last year, Vera made headlines when she started a walk from Cork to Dublin to raise Ava’s plight and call for a change in the country’s cannabis law. She had a knee injury during her trek and had to be pushed in wheelchair for the remaining few miles.
Two years after they started their campaign, Vera and Paul were finally granted the medicinal cannabis license for Ava. Health Minister Simon Harris signed the license late November.
CBD is legal in Ireland because it does not contain THC, which is the psychoactive component of cannabis. However, doctors still cannot prescribe it easily. Obtaining a license for medical cannabis is a very lengthy and difficult process, which involves several doctors and specialists. Licenses are, in effect, rarely granted. In fact, Ava is only the third person to be granted such license.
Vera thanked everyone who supported their fundraising, which had enabled them to move to the Netherlands and obtain the much-needed cannabis oil for Ava. She also acknowledged family, friends, and the community for contacting people in the government to help them fight for medical cannabis license.
While Vera is happy to be home now, where Ava can spend Christmas with her entire family, and with her family’s fight for medical cannabis access now over, she said that she still feels a personal responsibility to help others who are in the same situation they were. According to her, it is their duty to share some of their success and how they achieved it. She said she feels really sorry for people who are dealing with medical conditions like Lyme disease.
Individual patients in Ireland could still apply for medical cannabis licenses through their doctors. The Irish government is trying to speed up this process. Harris is said to have established an expert reference group, which has made progress in finalizing a set of clinical guidelines for the prescription of medicinal cannabis.