“Heartbroken” Irish mother walked length of Ireland to try and get life-saving medical marijuana for sick daughter.
- Courageous Vera Twomey walked 260km from Cork down to Dublin in desperate attempt to get access to cannabis-based medication for her daughter
- Ava Barry, Vera’s daughter, suffers from Dravey Syndrome, a rare intractable form of epilepsy, which cannot be treated by pharmaceutical medicines
- Vera was granted a meeting with Irish Minister of Health, Sam Harris, after arriving in Dublin with hundreds of supporters, only to be left “heartbroken”
- “What would you do if it was your child, and if there was a solution out there that could ease your child’s suffering? What would you do to go and get it?”
What lengths would you go to end your child’s suffering? Vera Twomey, an Irish mother of 4, answered this question when she began her grueling 260km walk from Cork to Dublin. Her intention: to get her daughter legal access to cannabis-based medicine for her intractable epilepsy.
Vera’s 7-year-old daughter, Ava, was on 11 different pharmaceuticals just to try and control the debilitating impact the seizures from her epilepsy were having on her life. The legal drugs were not properly alleviating her condition, leaving the poor child to suffer up to 500 seizures a month, or roughly 20 seizures a day. The pharmaceuticals were also having horrendous side-effects, often having a devastating impact on Ava, leaving her incapacitated. This all changed when Vera discovered the medicinal qualities of cannabis.
Since starting her treatment on CBD extract from cannabis last October, Ava’s seizures have been reduced to 5-7 a month! However, it’s not just the CBD oil which Ava is in need of to help control her seizures. Vera believes that if her daughter could get access to THC as well as CBD, her seizures could be reduced even further. Vera told The Journal: “We are badly in need of THC as well as the CBD to treat Ava’s seizures. People who use THC with the CBD see further improvement in the control of the seizures.
“The difficulty is that THC is not legal over 0.02% here in Ireland, so the consultants are not in a position to be able to prescribe it at the 1-2% which we need it to be.”
Vera’s request for medicinal cannabis containing THC has so far been denied by Ireland’s Health Minister, Sam Harris on the grounds that a paediatric neurologist could not sign off on it. Mr. Harris released a statement outlining that he is able to meet her, but that it is not within his power “to provide medicinal cannabis” in the immediate future.
Following an initial promising meeting with Mr. Harris earlier this week, Vera was left “heartbroken” after being forced home following a second, more disappointing meeting. Recommendations from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) on medicinal cannabis allow the Minister to grant a licence for access to cannabis for medical purposes in individual cases when an application is endorsed by a consultant “who is responsible for the management of the patient”. Vera was not granted these vital documents despite her courageous efforts. In a tear-filled video, Vera expressed her dismay that she had been hung out to dry by her Government: “These important documents were to take a few hours to arrange after several attempts to contact officials regarding the eta of these documents with no response it took certain actions by TDs to eventually make contact with officials regarding said issue.
“This resulted in Paul (Vera’s husband) making a trip to collect these papers at six thirty this evening. This callous indifference to our family resulted in a further day in Dublin and an unnecessary day for my children to be without their mother.”
“The enclosed documents hold none of the important documents necessary and promised to us by Simon Harris last night. It is truly, truly disgraceful.”
The Irish public, however, has shown enormous support for Vera and her cause. Hundreds of people have joined her on various legs of her journey, including Irish politicians and even schoolchildren:
Irish MEP, Luke Flannagan, joined Vera in her walk, from Johnstown in County Kilkenn. The MEP has been extremely critical of Sam Harris, the Health Minister, who Vera is hoping to meet and plea with later tonight.
He wrote in a FaceBook post: “He [Sam Harris] is a man with a lot of power but completely without the balls to use it. He has hidden behind the HPRA report.
“He has shown no leadership. He has abdicated his duties. A Minister for Health should care for those in pain. Our Minister does not.”
If the Minister of Health cannot help his citizens from serious medical issues by legalizing a plant which has consistently been proven in medical trials and studies to have a significant impact on reducing epileptic seizures, then who can? Surely Mr. Harris is exactly the person to put an end to this little girl’s suffering.
While Vera may have been hung-out to dry by some of her politicians, the support she has received from the public has been huge, and it has not gone unnoticed. Commenting on the reaction she has received from the public, Vera said: “I’m just so grateful that people care around the country.”
Vera’s determination was shown when she vowed to stay in Dublin outside the Irish Parliament (the Dáil Éireann) until she was met by the Irish Minister for Health, Sam Harris: “If you don’t come out on Tuesday, I’ll be here on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, and every other day until we get this issue resolved.”
Even though the brave mother had to return home due to her injuries and to be with her children, her message has begun to resonate with the national and international community.
The Irish public has already shown their support for Vera and Ava. Hundreds of supporters joined her as she arrived at the Dáil:
Vera’s story is one of strength and resilience; of compassion and an un-dying love for her daughter. CBD-oil has already proven to drastically reduce Ava’s intractable epileptic seizures, if there’s even a small chance of THC reducing these seizures then what possible reason could the Irish Government have to reject her request? It’s out of our hands now, and up to the politicians. However, they will need encouraging in the right direction, if Mr. Harris’ previous comments are anything to go by.
Sign and share the petition below to show your support for Vera and Ava, and ‘like’ their FaceBook for updates: