Medical marijuana gives epileptic child new lease on life

Michael Platt, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:32 PM ET

AIRDRIE, Alta. ─ Potato chip producers and Grateful Dead fans have always believed, but a desperate mother in Airdrie, Alta., never thought she'd be calling marijuana a miracle.

The cries of "mama, mama" from Sarah Wilkinson's living room just north of Calgary are all she needs to believe ─ that, and seeing her disabled eight-year-old daughter Mia going from 100 seizures a day to seven in the past eight months.

"Her first seizure was 29 minutes after birth ─ it was absolutely terrifying," said Wilkinson.

"From there I was thrust into the world of seizure disorders. At first I thought it would resolve itself, and then the doctor sat us down and told us it was terminal."

Mia was born with Ohtahara syndrome, an extremely rare epilepsy syndrome usually caused by a brain abnormality, and typically fatal within the first two years of life.

Children who survive longer, like Mia, are severely disabled.

Their parents can spend years in a desperate search, for something, anything, to reduce the number and severity of seizures, with the worst ─ called status seizures ─ lasting as long as 22 hours.

Last July, Wilkinson and her husband James had run out of options, and after seeing Mia in hospital ICU, fighting back from yet another brutal seizure and a medically-induced coma, they were ready to give up.

"Her neurologist had looked at me and said there's nothing else we can do," said Wilkinson.

"She'd had another status seizure and was in a medically-induced coma and my husband and I said this is it -- I looked at him and said 'I'm not doing this to her anymore, it's not fair to her.'"


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