Epileptic boy who had cannabis oil medication confiscated ‘in life-threatening condition’

'This is beyond cruelty,' mother says

Samuel Osborne
Saturday 16 June 2018 00:55 BST
UK custom officers seize cannabis oil medication which prevents a 12 year old boy’s life threatening seizures

A 12-year-old boy is in a life-threatening condition after his cannabis oil medication was confiscated, his mother has said.

Billy Caldwell suffers from extreme epilepsy and has been taken by ambulance to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London on Friday after his seizures “intensified”, a family statement added.

A batch of the banned drug used to treat him was confiscated from his mother, Charlotte Caldwell, at Heathrow Airport.

Ms Caldwell said the Home Office would be held accountable if he died.

She said: “This is beyond cruelty. We’ve now reached the point where Billy is too ill to travel to get his medication, but his medication is stored minutes away from where we’re now living in London.

“Despite the best and honest efforts of the NHS, frontline doctors are fighting Billy’s condition with both hands tied behind their back because the only medication that will be effective is the cannabis oil [with a banned component].”

She said the situation was described by doctors in Canada and Northern Ireland familiar with Billy’s case as life-threatening.

The child, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, started the treatment in 2016 in the US, where medical marijuana is legal.

He became the first person in the UK to receive a prescription after his local GP in Northern Ireland, Brendan O’Hare, began writing scripts.

However, there is no record of a health service prescription being dispensed.

Dr O’Hare was summoned to a meeting with Home Office officials recently and told to desist.

Ms Caldwell and Billy made the trip to Toronto and back to get a six-month supply to treat up to 100 seizures a day, but said border officials seized the oil.

She added: “Billy has had back-to-back seizures today, Friday.

“On his medication, which included the vital but banned THC component, he was seizure-free for more than 300 days.”

She said her son was too ill to travel to Canada to get his medication.

“If Billy dies, which is looking increasingly possible, then the Home Office ... will be held completely accountable.”

The family later said Billy has been admitted to hospital as doctors said it is too dangerous to treat him with “rescue meds” at home.

He can now be treated only with hospital-administered medication.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We are deeply sympathetic to the extremely difficult situation that Billy and his family are in.

“Billy is in the care of medical professionals who are best placed to assess the care and treatment that he requires.

“The Home Office is contacting Billy’s medical team. If the team treating Billy advise a particular course of urgent action, the Home Office will carefully consider what options are available to help facilitate that advice.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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