Clad in an anorak to keep out the wind and the cold, Vera Twomey is pushed in a wheelchair along the streets and highways of Ireland. She has been forced to use a wheelchair as after 200km, her knees can no longer take the strain. But her resolve is unwavering.
She set out from her home in Cork a week ago to demand a change in law from the Irish Health Minister who has refused to allow her daughter access to medical cannabis. She says, until he changes his mind, she isn’t going back home again.
Vera doesn’t walk alone for Ava
Along her journey Vera is joined by friends, family and strangers and even a children’s marching band. All moved by her grit and determination to get the treatment she hopes will save the life of her seven year old daughter Ava.
Ava has Dravet Syndrome. Before she started taking CBD oil in the autumn, on an average day she would have up to twenty seizures a day. On one occasion her little body couldn’t take any more and she suffered a heart attack.
Taking CBD oil has reduced her seizures by 80%, but Vera believes that by including a small amount of THC, the number could be brought down even further.
“Every seizure is deadly,” she says. “You don’t know how long one of her seizures is going to last. Every time she goes into a seizure, depending on how oxygen deprived the child might be, she could come out of it with brain damage, she might not come out of it at all. So it’s crucial, it’s so urgent that we get this further opportunity to reduce Ava’s seizures because her whole life is on the line. “
A selection of our products
End of a long road
Vera is due to reach the Irish Parliament this around one o’ clock today. Buses of people from around the country are expected to arrive to support her, with the Cork mother asking that any protest be carried out in a peaceful fashion.
Health Minister Simon Harris has agreed to a meeting with Twomey, with a representative from the Irish Ministry of Health making the following statement:
“The granting of a licence must, however, be premised on an appropriate application being submitted to the Department of Health, which is endorsed by a consultant who is responsible for the management of the patient and who is prepared to monitor the effects of the treatment over time.”
“Therefore, it is crucial that the granting of any such licence takes due care and consideration of the potential unintended consequences associated with the prescription of cannabis, a schedule one controlled drug, for medical purposes, and that its use is endorsed by a consultant who is familiar with and responsible for the care of the individual for whom the licence application is being made.”
Will Health Minister Harris agree to a mother’s demands?
While sounding promising in principal, Vera Twomey says there needs to be a change in the law that will allow Ava’s consultants to sign their application, as currently in Ireland there are no paediatric neurologists with the required experience to prescribe medical cannabis.
Either way today is the day of reckoning. Will a politician bend to the will of a mother fighting for the life of her child?
For more information on Vera’s campaign Change.org