For the first time, a hospital in Colorado is allowing parents to give cannabis oil to their epileptic infant while the child is undergoing in-patient care. Two-month-old Amylea Nunez has suffered around 15 seizures a day since she was born, and as the baby fights for her life, her parents have turned to cannabis in an attempt to find relief from the seizures.
A day after she came home from the hospital where she was born in December, Nunez’s seizures started. She’s been in hospitals ever since, and her parents say that her heart even stopped twice, requiring resuscitation. They worry that the medications she is taking are damaging her liver and causing other harmful side effects, so they wanted to try cannabis.
Initially, the doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora refused to allow Nunez’s parents to give her cannabidiol oil, or CBD, while the infant was checked into the hospital, but eventually they relented. “I sat for a good three weeks fighting with the doctors and trying to talk them into giving me the okay,” Amylea’s mother Nicole Nunez told KRQE Albuquerque. “I’ve been working with the case study team and the neurology team here at Children’s and I’m hopeful this will work.”
The family is using an oil known as Charlotte’s Web, which is very low in THC content and therefore doesn’t deliver the high or stoned sensation typically associated with marijuana consumption. Charlotte’s Web is produced by medical cannabis entrepreneurs in Colorado and has earned a reputation as a product that is safe and effective to use with epileptic children.
Studies have found that CBD oil shows immense promise for treating pediatric epilepsy, with one report finding that the cannabis extract can cut the number of seizures experienced by patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy in half. Families with sick children have flocked to Colorado, where they can obtain legal CBD, from other states where the treatment is still illegal. The Nunez family is among them, traveling from their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico in search of healing for their daughter.
“We’re trying to use something different that’s not so bad on her body,” Amylea’s father Ernie Nunez said to the local Denver CBS station. “After researching and month after month reading on it we’re hoping it works because it’s a natural way and it’ll help her out.”
The parents reported that Amylea was already acting more alert and responsive after starting on the CBD oil.
Children’s Hospital Colorado released a statement noting that it does not prescribe, recommend or administer cannabis oil to children, but that it is still committed to providing care to patients who are given cannabis oil by their parents. The hospital is participating in an observational study to learn the effects of the oil on epileptic children, although it previously only included patients under out-patient care.
“Most of these families have children with very complex medical needs, and Children’s Colorado wants to continue to see them, help to monitor them and be on the lookout for potential adverse side effects,” the statement reads. Starting now, the program encompasses at least one in-patient child as well.
“For us to get the approval for us to administer it while she’s in the NICU while she’s a patient,” Nicole Nunez said, “it’s kind of like a miracle.”