Mother of epileptic child 'overjoyed' to have confiscated medical cannabis returned

‘Bureaucratic trauma’ shows ‘system just isn’t working’, say nine-year-old’s parents

Thomas Hornall
Saturday 13 April 2019 17:57 BST
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Teagan Appleby's parents Emma Appleby and Lee Moore flew to the Netherlands to obtain medicinal cannabis for her
Teagan Appleby's parents Emma Appleby and Lee Moore flew to the Netherlands to obtain medicinal cannabis for her (PA)

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

Emma Appleby received the supply of cannabis oils for nine-year-old daughter Teagan from the government on Friday, six days after it was seized by Border Force officials.

The medicine, which cost £4,600, was confiscated as Ms Appleby and her partner Lee Moore landed at Southend Airport the previous Saturday following a visit to the Netherlands.

The family, from Aylesham, near Dover, had flown out two days earlier to obtain the medicine, prescribed by a paediatric neurologist in Rotterdam.

After it was received, they obtained a private prescription from a specialist UK consultant.

Ms 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.

“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.”

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Teagan has a rare chromosomal disorder known as Isodicentric 15 as well as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. She can suffer up to 300 seizures a day.

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.”

The law in the UK was changed in 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 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”.

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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 was working to “unblock” some of the challenges in the system but stressed ”these things need to be clinician-led”.

Ms 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.”

Press Association

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