Girl, 2, is first child in Britain to be prescribed medicinal cannabis
Girl, 2, who has 30 seizures a day becomes first child in Britain to be prescribed medicinal cannabis, which will cost her family £1,000 a month and a trip from Belfast to London for every repeat prescription
- Jorja Emerson, from Northern Ireland, was born with a chromosome disorder
- At ten months old it triggered epilepsy with every seizure now potentially deadly
- Her father, Robin Emerson, sought help at private Portland Hospital in London
- Cannabis for medical use was made lawful in November after high-profile cases
- Earlier this week, Carly Barton, 32, became the first adult to be prescribed it
Little Jorja Emerson yesterday became the first child in the UK to be prescribed medicinal cannabis.
Her parents desperately hope it will help the stricken two-year-old, who suffers up to 30 epileptic seizures a day.
Clutching the landmark prescription after it was issued by a doctor in London yesterday, Jorja’s father Robin Emerson said: ‘We have been fighting for over a year, so today has been a momentous day. Now Jorja has hope.’
Jorja Emerson’s father Robin (pictured together) persuaded a neurologist at the private Portland Hospital in London to help his daughter claiming the NHS had ‘turned its back’
Jorja (pictured) has now become the first child in the UK to be prescribed medicinal cannabis, but at a cost of £3,000 for a three-month supply. The cannabis oil is administered from a bottle using a syringe, with a few drops placed on the tongue twice a day
The cannabidiol (CBD) drug (pictured) will be imported from Canada. Mr Emerson will have to fly to London for every repeat prescription
Cannabis for medical use was made lawful on November 1, following the high-profile cases of two other young epilepsy sufferers, Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose parents were given special permission by the Home Office to use products they had already been using abroad.
Despite being legalised, cannabis oil remains medically ‘unlicensed’ and doctors have been reluctant to actually prescribe it.
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Earlier this week, former university lecturer Carly Barton, 32, became the first adult to be prescribed it, to alleviate pain.
And yesterday Jorja became the first child in the UK to receive a prescription after her father persuaded a neurologist at the private Portland Hospital in London to help.
He said: ‘The NHS turned its back on us. But I knew when I first met this particular doctor, and she was finally telling me the same as doctors abroad, that Jorja is going to survive.’ He said the Portland doctor had asked not to be identified.
Jorja was born with a rare chromosome disorder, which causes developmental delay.
Although not life-threatening, when she was ten months old, it triggered epilepsy – and now every seizure is potentially deadly. The little girl was labelled ‘terminal’ by doctors in Northern Ireland, where she lives in Dundonald, near Belfast.
Jorja (pictured) was born with a rare chromosome disorder, which causes developmental delay
Although not life-threatening, when Jorja (pictured) was ten months old, it triggered epilepsy – and now every seizure is potentially deadly
But Mr Emerson, 31, and her mother, Carly Emerson, 31 – who are separated but devoted to caring for Jorja – refused to accept that nothing could be done. They consulted doctors in the US and Australia who recommended cannabis oil.
Mr Emerson, an entrepreneur, said: ‘Jorja has had every drug going – but nothing is working. She is on six different medications and still has more than 30 epileptic seizures a day, any one of which could kill her. She is sick every night. I have done research after research, and I have seen the effects in other countries where cannabis is legal and how well it works.’
Mr Emerson is paying £3,000 for a three-month supply of cannabis oil for his daughter (the two are pictured together), and will have to fly to London for every repeat prescription
Yesterday he took his daughter’s prescription straight to the hospital’s pharmacy, to start the two-week process of having the cannabidiol (CBD) drug imported from Canada.
The cannabis oil is administered from a bottle using a syringe, with a few drops placed on the tongue twice a day.
Mr Emerson is paying £3,000 for a three-month supply, and will have to fly to London for every repeat prescription.
He said: ‘It’s a lot of money, but it’s a choice between my daughter staying alive and dying.
‘It will take a while to kick in, but after a few days we will hopefully see a drop in the seizures, and then we will gradually wean her off the other medication.
‘I’m hoping that in about six weeks, she will be off all the other medication and not be having seizures.’
Portland Hospital said: ‘Consultants can prescribe medication that is clinically appropriate for their patients’ care.
‘Our pharmacy department is working with the Home Office and national licensing departments to ensure we are able to follow the correct regulatory processes for the safe supply of medicinal cannabis.’
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