Cannabis has saved my daugh­ter’s life Medic­i­nal ben­e­fits have trans­formed se­verely ill young­ster’s care – now mother calls for it to be pre­scribed

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Mike Lock­ley Fea­tures Staff

THE par­ents of a se­verely dis­abled girl who can­not walk, talk, eat or drink claim the use of cannabis oil has trans­formed her life.

The seizures that reg­u­larly struck sixyear-old Jayla Ag­bon­la­hor with have been dra­mat­i­cally stemmed.

Jayla’s dra­matic strug­gle against the brain dam­age that con­vulsed and twisted her tiny body have been re­placed by an in­fec­tious smile.

Mother and fa­ther Louise Bo­s­tock and Charisma Ag­bon­la­hor – brother of As­ton Villa ace Gabby – have now re­vealed that it is medic­i­nal cannabis that has been the key to their daugh­ter’s turn­around.

In this coun­try it is an il­le­gal recre­ational drug and has yet to be given full med­i­cal ap­proval for ther­a­peu­tic use.

But 33-year-old Ms Bo­s­tock, from Erd­ing­ton, says the drug has been a medic­i­nal marvel for her daugh­ter and she has fought hard for the right to treat her with cannabis oil.

Ms Bo­s­tock even faced hav­ing the lit­tle girl taken from her af­ter au­thor­i­ties dis­cov­ered she had been ad­min­is­ter­ing the drug in oil form.

But Ms Bo­s­tock makes no apolo­gies for hav­ing bro­ken the law. She will, she in­sists, do what­ever it takes to ease the suf­fer­ing of a child who doc­tors be­lieved would live no longer than four years. Jayla is now the UK’s youngest legally ap­proved Class B drug user, says Ms Bo­s­tock.

And she wants medics to open the flood­gates and al­low the oil to be made avail­able for those chil­dren who, like her own daugh­ter, strug­gle through pro­longed pain. She wants it used widely by the NHS for pa­tients of all ages. At present, a cannabis-based medicine is avail­able to those suf­fer­ing mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, but not on pre­scrip­tion.

Ms Bo­s­tock said: “Jayla has been al­lowed to use it, so why haven’t oth­ers been al­lowed to use it? This has to hap­pen.

“She is my child, she is unique and I will do what­ever I can to save her life. Where there is no hope, it pro­vides some hope.

“Am I wor­ried about the long-term ef­fects? I am more con­cerned about the long-term ef­fects of, ef­fec­tively, toxic medicine. I do not re­fer to this as a drug, I re­fer to it as a plant.”

Jayla’s se­vere health prob­lems be­gan shortly af­ter her first birth­day. Her breath­ing be­came painfully laboured and she was rushed to hos­pi­tal. She re­mained there for five months.

The pre­cise cause re­mains a mys­tery.

Ms Bo­s­tock ex­plained: “When Jayla was born there was noth­ing wrong with her. But then, just days af­ter her first birth­day, she stopped breath­ing and kept go­ing blue. She was rushed to hos­pi­tal where she re­mained for five months.

“At first they thought it was epilepsy. But even­tu­ally they couldn’t di­ag­nose her and I was told that she wasn’t ex­pected to sur­vive. Mean­while, I was preg­nant with our son Ju­nior and when Jayla was on her death bed, I went into labour.”

In the des­per­ate quest for a mir­a­cle the fam­ily have even vis­ited Lour­des but it has been cannabis that has sup­pressed the suf­fer­ing. of her de­cline

“Jayla stopped breath­ing and was rushed to hos­pi­tal where she was pumped 30 times,” says Ms Bo­s­tock. “That in­spired me to try to do every­thing I can to help her, and make her life a bit more en­joy­able. Med­i­ca­tion didn’t work and so I wanted to take her to be blessed in the Holy wa­ter of Lour­des and to bathe her in the heal­ing lakes.”

The fu­ture looked bleak when medics at Birm­ing­ham Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal re­vealed the child was re­sis­tant to con­ven­tional med­i­ca­tion.

In des­per­a­tion, Ms Bo­s­tock came across ar­ti­cles pro­claim­ing the al­leged medic­i­nal ben­e­fits of cannabis oil and be­gan a cloak-and-dag­ger op­er­a­tion to source and ad­min­is­ter the drug. Jayla was only four at the time.

She fi­nally ad­mit­ted the clan­des­tine treat­ment to nurses and was im­me­di­ately sum­moned to a “safe­guard­ing meet­ing” at­tended by po­lice and coun­cil of­fi­cials.

But Ms Bo­s­tock was fi­nally given clear­ance to use the drug in 2015, yet ob­tain­ing the oil – ad­min­is­tered through Jayla’s stom­ach or rubbed on her gums – re­mains some­thing of a covert op­er­a­tion.

She still can­not ob­tain it through pre­scrip­tion and pur­chases pack­ages from Hol­land.

Belfast 11-year-old Billy Cald­well, who suffers from se­vere epilepsy, be­came the first Bri­tish child to re­ceive cannabis on med­i­cal pre­scrip­tion ear­lier this year.

“Jayla used to be hos­pi­talised ev­ery three or four weeks with seizures. Now she can go months with­out one,” added Ms Bo­s­tock.

“She is smil­ing and happy and has so much more life. She used to be co­matose and slept all day. But she has started to eat prop­erly and now watches TV with a smile on her face. I heard her laugh out loud for the first time – can you imag­ine?

“I be­lieve it has saved her life, so it is a good thing. That is why it needs to hap­pen with other chil­dren.”

I be­lieve it has saved her life, so it is a good thing. That is why it needs to hap­pen with other chil­dren Mother Louise Bo­s­tock

> Louise Bo­s­tock with her daugh­ter Jayla, six, who suffers with a de­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease

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