Mother hopes many more can benefit as oil helps turn little Ava's life around
A Cork mother who has led the campaign for access to medicinal cannabis said it has transformed the health of her daughter who used to suffer 20 epileptic seizures a day.
Vera Twomey's daughter Ava (7) is now thriving and has seen a 90pc drop in seizures since she started taking cannabis oil, which she buys in a herbal store in Dublin.
Responding to the pledge by Health Minister Simon Harris to bring in legislation to allow it be used by patients with certain conditions, including the kind of epilepsy suffered by Ava, she said it had the potential to bring relief from debilitating symptoms blighting people's lives due to illness.
"It is a big step forward and I hope it can be extended to people with other illnesses over time as well," she said.
She urged the minister to push through the legislation and regulations on foot of the expert report which gave it the go-ahead despite the limitations they faced in relation to scientific data.
Ava suffers from Dravet Syndrome which involves intractable epilepsy that cannot be controlled by normal medications.
With this syndrome, a sufferer can initially have their seizures treated by normal epilepsy medicines.
However, over a short period of time, the seizures become immune to the medications and increase both in their frequency and severity.
Vera said she was particularly heartened by a report on Ava by her school, which said she had progressed dramatically in recent months.
This coincided with her taking the cannabis oil which had improved her sleep and appetite, said Vera.
It means she has not been missing school as her overall health has improved.
Some of the very powerful prescribed medication put her in a coma, leaving her family desperate for some other treatment.
Ava continues to suffer some seizures and her condition must remain monitored, Vera added.