Cannabis oil gives Olivia a new lease of life - '˜Thanks to cannabis oil our little Olivia can now smile and laugh'

A Preston toddler who previously suffered up to 100 seizures a day has gained a new lease of life after going on a medical trial of cannabis oil.

Saturday, 30th June 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th July 2018, 6:13 pm
Jenna Heary, 22, and Matthew Botham with their daughter Olivia, two, who has severe epilepsy which means she has over 100 seizures a day, pictured with Jenna's mum Michelle

The plight of little Olivia Heary, two, who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy, was highlighted by the Lancashire Post just before Christmas.

As a result of the publicity, Olivia’s mum Jenna Heary and dad Matthew Botham, both 22 and from central Preston, were contacted by an American company running a medical trial on the use of CBD cannabis oil to treat epilepsy.

Jenna said: “I didn’t think it was real when they called us. And then they said there was no need to pay.”

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Jenna Heary, 22, and her daughter Olivia, two, who has severe epilepsy which means she has over 100 seizures a day

Before the trial began, Olivia was suffering up to 100 seizures a day, despite being on medication and a special diet.

She spent nine months of her short life in hospital and her parents were warned that she might not make it past the age of one.

She only slept between two and six hours a day, and had to be given medication every few hours, making the family, including older brother Kailen, into prisoners in their own home.

But since the trial began in January, she has seen a dramatic improvement in her condition.

Jenna said: “She was put on it end of January so in only four-five months there’s been massive changes”.

“Her seizures are a lot less, only up to 20 a day which is great”.

And most importantly of all, said Jenna, little Olivia has begun to smile and laugh.

Olivia is given the oil twice a day in order to reduce the seizures and the length of them.

“Sometimes we had to put the paste oil on her gums if she has a bad seizure which stops them but that’s not often,” said Jenna.

“The oil has meant her reliance on other medication has stopped,

“She’s off diazepam now and she hasn’t taken the medication off her neurologist in a long time.

“The oil has meant her sleeping pattern has improved as well she sleeps from 10.30pm to normally 6 or 7am which is a lot better for us”.

Before Olivia was taking the oil she had lost control of her head and trunk of her body.

Jenna said “she still has no control of her head and chest but she can raise her arms above her head and bring her knees to her tummy, she’s all smiles and laughter now and more alert like she’s properly taking in what is going on around her.”

As well as Olivia’s progress it has helped Jenna and Matthew a lot.

“We are out a lot more, obviously we are cautious and limited what we can do with her,” said Jenna.

And the family is also grateful for the increased public discussion about the use of medicinal cannabis oil.

The issue was brought to the public attention by the plight of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell, who became seriously ill when his medical cannabis oil was confiscated at Heathrow Airport.

Billy, who also has severe epilepsy, became seriously ill without his medication.

His mother Charlotte Caldwell lead a campaign for the Home Office to relent on the rules over medical cannabis, which was eventually successful.

Jenna said: “Since that happened we aren’t just the couple who want to give their daughter cannabis, we aren’t alone as more people understand it’s definitely opened us up a lot more”.

Jenna and Matthew are very happy with Olivia’s progress but are hoping for an even better outcome for Olivia. They are waiting for a higher dose of the CBD oil in order to lower her number of seizures even more. Olivia’s dosage cannot be upped unless it is legalised by the government.

Jenna has been in contact with Charlotte Caldwell, and has offered her support to the campaign.

She said: “I need them to make it legal. Not for recreational use but definitely for the medical side of it.

“It has proven with Olivia that it’s doing its job, they need to make a decision better”.