THE family of a baby boy with a rare strain of epilepsy is considering a highly controversial method to treat his condition: cannabis.
Rik Osborn, whose one-year-old son Oliver suffers from aggressive epilepsy, says he has read of cases from the United States where the drug has been used to control the condition in children.
He said the cannabis – legalised in certain U.S. states – used for treating epilepsy is in liquid form and the part used to get “high” is taken away.
Rik and Oliver’s mum Danielle Coils, 28, are fund-raising for charity Epilepsy Action to try to raise cash for research into the controversial treatment.
Oliver’s strain of the illness is called migrating partial epilepsy in infancy, which affects fewer than 20 children in the country. It can send him into an epileptic state for up to 10 minutes.
The development in children with the condition is slow and the child will have learning difficulties.
Rik, 29, of Wadham Close, in Peterlee, said: “Hopefully, it could be a step forward. I’ve read about a little girl out there, similar to Oliver, who it has been used on.
“It is a strange route to take, but at the end of the day, when you’re up against the wall, when surgery is not an option, it’s got to be something to consider.”
Sufferers of Oliver’s condition – which sees him have seizures up to 100 times a day – don’t usually live past the age of seven.
But the family are hopeful that alternative forms of treatment will become available, and they are pinning their hopes on the cannabis in a last-ditch attempt to help their son.
Rik added: “From what I’ve heard, they put a drop of it under the person’s tongue.
“It’s hard because people say ‘if it’s not legalised why would you give it to children?’ But when other medication isn’t working, it’s something we’ve got to go for.
“At the end of the day you want what’s best for your child and for them to be with you for as long as possible.”
He said the cannabis strain, named Charlotte’s Web after a girl helped by the drug, has seen seizure rates reduce by 80 to 90 per cent.
“Little things like that give you hope,” said Rik, who is taking part in a 140-mile Coast 2 Coast bike ride to raise funds for the Epilepsy Action charity on June 6.
He and Chris Baker, cousin Kyle Osborn, Christopher Hall, James Hall, Gary Colledge, Paul Fletcher and Greg O’Brien will ride from Whitehaven to Roker over three days, with David Purvis and Colin Docherty in a support vehicle.
To sponsor the group, visit www.justgiving.com/Oliver-osborn.