A doctor in the United Kingdom (UK) saw a suffering child and made the decision to save his life. He had to break the law to do so.
Billy Caldwell is an 11-year-old boy who has been plagued by debilitating epileptic seizures since he was four months old.
“Billy has intractable epilepsy,” said Charlotte Caldwell, Billy’s mother, in an interview with Marijuana.com. Charlotte added that Billy could have up to 100 seizures a day, and making matters worse, Billy seizures are classified as status epilepticus. “That means when Billy goes into a seizure he cannot come back on his own, I have to give him rescue medication and put oxygen in him because he goes blue.”
Billy was on pharmaceuticals which stopped his seizures for eight years. When the seizures started happening again in early 2016, Charlotte tried desperately to get a medical evaluation within the UK, but due to long waiting lists, she was not able to do so. She then contacted a specialist in Los Angeles who had examined her son previously, to see what could be done in the United States. “I called him in Los Angeles and he said we would see Billy, so we went.”
After an intense evaluation in June of 2016, it was then the doctors discovered a lesion had developed on Billy’s brain, which was the cause of his returning condition. “We then talked about medicinal cannabis and they contacted a specialist [for the medication].”
Billy was then prescribed medical cannabis in the United States — a combination of CBD and THCa — which has helped Billy become almost seizure free. “To date now he has been 94 days seizure free on medicinal cannabis,” Charlotte said.
Charlotte and Billy came back from their last trip to California in February of this year and brought Billy’s medicine with them, despite the illegal status of THC in the United Kingdom. But the real surprise happened when Billy’s doctor in the UK, Dr. Brendan O’Hare, saw how well the medication was working. Because of its success, he prescribed it for Billy even though it’s not a legal drug in the United Kingdom. He broke the law to save a child’s life.
“The GP said common sense prevails. He said ‘This is a medicine for a little boy and it’s controlling his life-threatening seizures.’ He couldn’t live with himself if something happened to Billy.”
In an article for The Telegraph, Dr. O’Hare outlines his reasons, stating “Whatever the rights and wrongs, we had a child here who had benefitted and the child’s welfare was paramount. On that basis I issued a prescription and letter.”
Charlotte added that there has been no pushback from local law enforcement or the government, even though they are aware of what’s going on. “The police know who me and Billy are and they just wave. They know it’s for medicinal purposes.”
Charlotte’s main goal is to have Billy lead the healthiest life possible, but she is also aware that this landmark prescription could start a movement for others to get the same medical treatment, now that the Caldwells and their doctors have helped set the precedent.
She is also working with local politicians and together they have drafted a bill to be presented in Parliament that would allow THC-based medicinal cannabis in Ireland. The proposed legislation is called “Billy’s Law” and will be introduced after the upcoming election on June 8th.
For the moment, the Caldwells are leading a normal life in Northern Ireland, where Billy takes medicinal cannabis every day.
Because of a dedicated mother, a U.S. specialist, and a brave UK doctor, a child that was struggling to survive now enjoys a seizure free existence. For Billy, it’s an entirely new world full of possibilities.