At just six months old, Katelyn was diagnosed with a rare disease called Dravet Syndrome. This disease is also called Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI). Seizures are frequent, often long lasting, and often life threatening. However, children with Dravet Syndrome do not respond well to the typical anti-seizure medications given for other forms of epilepsy. Worse, with every seizure, there is a good possibility of brain damage.
Research has shown that in those with Dravet Syndrome, there are abnormalities in the ion channels of the brain. However, exactly how this works is not completely understood. If children with Dravet Syndrome continue to have seizures, their development can be altered and they can develop symptoms similar to children with autism such as delayed language, trouble talking, difficulty with coordinated movement, sensory integration disorders, nervous disorders, and insomnia.
Katelyn is only four years old and she's already had thousands of epileptic seizures. She is often hospitalized for her seizures because they are life threatening and she has to be constantly monitored when they happen. Her seizures also last longer than most epileptic seizures, with one of them lasting for two and a half hours! Children with Dravet Syndrome have about an eight-five percent chance of living into adulthood.
It's heart wrenching for any parent to watch their child jerk, dribble, and suffer. With pain in his heart, Michael Lambert, Katelyn's Dad, was desperate to find a way to help his little girl, knowing that what traditional medicine could offer was very limited. When he started researching alternative methods, he stumbled on information about using medical cannabis to treat epilepsy.
Initially, he obtained the medical cannabis from a place in Denmark because there was no legal way for him to obtain medical cannabis in Australia. After seeing how well it worked, what a marked improvement his little girl showed, Katelyn's family was hugely encouraged and Michael decided to take further action. Even though the Hunter Valley is famous for being wine country with beautiful fields of grape vines, Michael decided to plant a beautiful field of medical cannabis to save his little girl. It should be noted that this medical cannabis is a cultivar that only contains trace amounts of THC and does NOT get little Katelyn high.
Now, here's the most amazing part of this story! The lastest report on Katelyn, after being on medical cannabis for a while, is that she has not had a major seizure for about ten months! While this happy news is reason for Katelyn, her family, and the world at large to rejoice and celebrate, there is also reason to cry.
Michael Lambert was actually arrested and charged with possession and cultivation of a drug for trying to help his little girl with medical cannabis. This was after it was shown to be working like a miracle. Can our modern society be so heartless? So cruel? So oblivious to how cannabis can help those who need it most?
Michael is fighting back... HARD! He plead NOT guilty and he is trying to get the law changed. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Michael stated, "I love my Katelyn and any law that says I have to watch her die and not look after her is a stupid law and needs to be changed."
Katelyn's paternal grandparents are fighting back too but in a different way. Barry Lambert, the grandfather, is a very successful businessman. He was the founder of Count Financial, and in the last year, sold this business for more than $370 million. He also chairs two other financial companies. Needless to say, he is worth a lot of money and he has a bent on philanthropy.
After his son got him in touch with researchers at the University of Sydney, they developed a ten year research plan to closely examine all the different chemical components in the medical cannabis plant that can help treat epilepsy and other diseases. However, this type of meticulous research, over such a long period of time, is very expensive of course and can't be done without proper funding.
Barry Lambert has agreed to give a donation of $33.7 million to the University of Sydney for the sole purpose of medical cannabis research! This is like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow to medical cannabis researchers. It's also great news for all of us who want to see more scientific research into the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis.
The Lambert family wants the medical cannabis research to have another impact as well. They want the traditional medical community to be "medically convinced" that cannabis can be helpful in treating diseases like epilepsy. They want a change in attitude toward cannabis. For thousands of years, it was the "go to" medicine for dozens of health issues. You could buy it over the counter, in fact, in the United States well into the 1920s.
Since the medical cannabis plants that Michael is growing are NOT psychoactive, and they are obviously helping Katelyn, potentially even saving her life, it seems over the top ludicrous that Michael was arrested on "drug" charges to many who have been following this story. To those who have personally benefitted from taking cannabis oil, or who have seen a loved one benefit from doing so, what Michael, Joy (the mother), and little Katelyn have been growing in their field is a miracle medicine from Mother Nature. It is also a field of hope.... hope that Katelyn can grow up and live a good and normal life, what any sensible parent wants for their child.
Michael still faces criminal charges and possible prison time. Meanwhile, the medical cannabis researchers are already gearing up thanks to Katelyn's grandfather's very generous donation.
Stay tuned for more to come on this very important story!