RALEIGH, N.C. -- To
what lengths would you go to save your child? It's a question you may not want
to think about, but for a North Carolina couple, that's their daily reality.
Liz Gorman and her husband
are pushing for a chance to try a strain of marijuana on their 6-year-old
daughter, but before you judge,
put yourself in their shoes.
"Maddie was happy, perfectly
normal and developing exactly as we would have expected until at 11 months of
age, she had her first fever,"
A doctor's visit revealed infant leukemia;
A grim prognosis. The Gormans would soon find out, that wasn't their biggest concern.
About a year into treatment, Maddie started having seizures.
"Hundreds of seizures a day
from pretty much the very beginning," said Liz. "When they started, they were clusters
that happened six to eight times a day and each cluster would have anywhere
The seizures sent Maddie's
development into a tailspin. "Suddenly,
the things you were used to seeing in your child are gone and you don't know if you'll ever be able to get them
back," said Liz.
Maddie can't do the things most six year olds can. She needs help eating,
getting dressed and going to the bathroom. Her mom says she interacts like an
Doctors tried 12 different drugs. Two of them worked, but only temporarily. The
Gormans then agreed to brain surgery. The procedure brought down Maddie's seizures to about 40 a day.
that same time, Liz started hearing about cannabis, which is marijuana, as a
seizure medicine. Even though it's illegal in North Carolina, other
families in other states where it's legal are using it.
"Kids that are using a very
specific strain of medicinal cannabis in Colorado are actually seeing some of
the neuro-protective benefits of it and they're beginning to see their children
develop again," said Liz.
Charlotte's Web is that strain. It's said to have an
insignificant level of THC, the main component that gives people that high
"To me, it is worth trying," said Liz. "There are enough people having
good enough success that it is worth trying especially compared to the other
options we have."
"The effects in very young
children like this are very unknown," said Dr. Cynthia Kuhn, Professor of
Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University Medical Center. Some doctors
there understand it may help, but say there just isn't the research to prove
"There's really hope that with good,
credible research, you could find non-psychoactive components of cannabis that
were effective at treating seizures," said Kuhn.
Liz Gorman realizes you might judge her and her cannabis crusade. "It is hard to understand what
it's like until you're really in this situation
and you know that you've
done everything you possibly can."
After we filmed this story a couple weeks
ago, Maddie was hospitalized with post-brain surgery complications and her
seizures are getting worse, again. Her parents are now quickly looking for
their next option, they're just not sure what it is.
In the state legislature, three bills to legalize some form of marijuana
have been shelved over the past five years.
The Epilepsy Foundation recently spoke out saying it's open
and committed to exploring any potential treatment options for epilepsy, even
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