Cannabis has saved my daughter’s life Medicinal benefits have transformed severely ill youngster’s care – now mother calls for it to be prescribed
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Jayla’s dramatic struggle against the brain damage that convulsed and twisted her tiny body have been replaced by an infectious smile.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