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Joy for little Ava

Wednesday, 29th November, 2017 5:33pm

A Cork mother has revealed her delight after securing legal access to medicinal cannabis for her young daughter.

Vera Twomey from Aghabullogue has been campaigning for access to medicinal cannabis for her daughter Ava, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy.

Health Minister Simon Harris confirmed in Dáil Eireann on Tuesday that a special licence for an Irish citizen, a little girl, to access the medicinal cannabis treatment in Ireland had been signed off on.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Ms Twomey said that while the particulars of Ava, seven, using the medication in Ireland was still to be finalised they now had permission to return from Holland where they had been living in order to access the drug.

“It’s the most wonderful news,” she said.

“There’s such a sense of relief, of being freed. We can now come home with Ava safe and secure, overseen by a neurologist. We’re bringing her back to all the support in Ireland, bringing her medication back legally.

“This has really been one of the happiest few days of my life.”

Ms Twomey relocated to Holland earlier this summer to get treatment for Ava, who has suffered dramatically fewer seizures since. She has been lobbying Health Minister Simon Harris since 2016, earlier this year walking 260km from her home to the Dáil to highlight the plight of children who need access to the treatment.
Ms Twomey called for medicinal cannabis to be properly recognised in Ireland, saying the Health Services Executive (HSE) had a responsibility to Irish citizens to provide adequate training to consultants and doctors on the treatment. 
“We can’t all be expected to leave the country, to be away from our families,” she said. “It should be an immediate priority to move legislation forward, because that’s what’s needed. Proper legislation for proper access to medication to help people. That’s what is happening in Europe. It’s absolutely crucial that people have the option.
“Ava has Dravet’s Syndrome today, she will have it tomorrow, and she will have it next week. But the medication is easing her seizures and giving her a quality of life she has never had before. It’s giving her a chance to grow, a chance of her brain to recover from the damage done by all the seizures she’s had over the last seven years.”
Ms Twomey continued to say her family, husband Paul and three other children Sophia (6), Michael (5) and Elvera-Mae (2) lived in “a very, very dark place with Ava” for many years, and that she was looking forward to seeing her daughter prosper when she returns to school again.
She said she has even been home schooling Ava while they have been in Holland. Due to term having already begun, she was unable to send Ava to school.
“I’ve been working with her myself, doing her stories and her jigsaw puzzles, keeping up as best I can,” she said. 
“Even with my humble efforts, I can see progress. So it’ll be exciting to see how much more the teachers will be able to draw out of her, once she is back in school.”
Revealing that she had no special Christmas plans for her soon to be reunited family, she said: “Just being together at home. That’s all. That’s all we ever wanted - the best possible option for Ava at home.”
Ireland South MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan praised the decision to grant the licence, saying: “This is a great day for those who need medicinal cannabis. But it’s just one step on a long road. A licencing system that needs the input of expensive experts, neurologists, doctors etc, and a ministerial approval for each individual request is not a satisfactory solution. We need a system that can make medicinal cannabis readily available.”
A medicinal cannabis bill was introduced earlier this year by Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny. It recently progressed to the next legislative stage despite opposition from some sections of the 
Oireachtas.

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