Mother fears seizure relapse after young girl's marijuana prescription not renewed
A Calgary woman says the normal, happy life of her nine-year-old daughter is in jeopardy following a doctor’s decision to discontinue the girl’s medicinal marijuana treatment.
Sarah Wilkinson’s daughter Mia had suffered frequent, severe seizures throughout the early years of her life. On her worst days, the young girl would experience as many as 100 episodes.
In an attempt to reduce the frequency of the seizures, doctors prescribed a number of medications but, according to Mia’s mother, the dozens of pills taken on a daily basis did not help.
Nearly two years ago, Sarah found a doctor at the Alberta Children’s Hospital willing to prescribe medical marijuana to curb Mia’s condition.
Sarah says the herb, taken orally in oil form through a dropper, has resulted in a remarkable improvement in Mia’s health and the young girl has been seizure free for nearly a year and a half. Mia requires no other medication at this time.
In June, Sarah emailed the doctor requesting the renewal of Mia’s medical marijuana licence but the request was denied.
“It’s completely devastating,” said Sarah. “If she doesn’t get this, I’ll lose her.”
“I can’t have that happen.”
In an email to Sarah Wilkinson, the doctor said the Alberta Children’s Hospital’s protocols factored in the denial.
“Due to the strict nature of the policy implemented here at children’s, I am not allowed to fill the forms for renewal of medical marijuana.”
The doctor suggested seeking another physician to fill the prescription but Sarah’s search has been unfruitful.
Mia’s doctor is currently out of the country and CTV Calgary’s attempts to discuss the girl's medical progress have not garnered a response.
Alberta Health Services' position on medical marijuana for children was implemented nearly two years ago. In a statement to CTV Calgary, AHS officials explained the stance.
Alberta Health Services does not support the prescription of medical marijuana for pediatric patients with epilepsy at this time.
Physicians provide prescriptions on a case by case basis using their professional judgement.
Health Canada has not approved medical marijuana for the treatment of seizures in Canada, and AHS is unaware of any studies, data or recognized epilepsy organizations that recommend or endorse the use of medical marijuana in pediatric patients with epilepsy
The Wilkinson family has enough medical marijuana remaining to continue Mia’s medication regiment for the next three weeks. Once the supply runs out, Sarah says she is willing to go to extremes to ensure the health of her daughter.
“If I don’t find a signing doctor, then I risk going to jail or having my children taken away. I’m not going to watch her deteriorate and seize to death.”
The Wilkinsons are appealing the prescription denial to the Alberta Children’s Hospital ethics board. If the appeal is unsuccessful, Sarah plans to reach out to her MLA for assistance.
With files from CTV's Kathy Le