(SKY NEWS) – A severely epileptic boy is to be allowed cannabis treatment after the Home Office backed down on banning it.
Charlotte Caldwell attempted to bring in medicinal cannabis oil to the UK for her 12-year-old son Billy but it was confiscated at Heathrow Airport on Monday after a flight from Canada.
He was taken to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital on Friday after the frequency of his seizures increased.
Ms Caldwell said on Saturday that Billy had two seizures overnight but he was now stable and asleep.
She said: “Billy had two more seizures overnight which is putting him further into a crisis situation.”
A family spokesman said the Home Office has released the medicinal cannabis oil, which is now on its way to the hospital.
The spokesman said a 20-day supply has been made available and will be kept at Chelsea and Westminster hospital.
Billy will get the medication sometime after 2pm today.
In a statement, Home Secretary Sajid 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.”
Ms Caldwell said she was “over the moon” at the release of the medicine but she criticised the “dreadful, horrific, cruel experience” that has deeply affected Billy.
She said: “His 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.
Ms Caldwell added: “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.”
Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley welcomed confirmation that Billy would now get his treatment.
She said: “Billy should never have been put in that position. The treatment was clearly working for him and he deteriorated badly once it ended, yet it still took intense lobbying to get the Home Office to reverse this cruel decision.”
Ms Caldwell praised medical teams at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. She said: “The staff here have been amazing. He is getting the best medical care in the world. I cannot thank the staff at the hospital enough.”
Billy, who is autistic and has pronounced communication difficulties, suffered back-to-back seizures on Friday after being seizure-free for more than 300 days when he was previously given the cannabis oil, according to his family.
Billy, from County Tyrone in Northern Ireland, was given a prescription for medicinal cannabis oil last year to help treat his epilepsy – the first time the drug had been prescribed by the NHS.
But the boy’s doctor was told by Home Office drug enforcement teams to stop prescribing the medication, which Ms Caldwell credits with keeping her son’s seizures at bay.