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Co Down girl Sophia Gibson fighting for her life as parents plea for medicinal cannabis licence

A seven-year-old Irish girl is fighting for her life just a week after her family blasted health chiefs for moving the goal posts on their application for medicinal cannabis.

Sophia Gibson, from Co Down, has suffered from a severe form of Dravet Syndrome, which causes deadly seizures, since she was a baby.

Her mum Danielle told Belfast Live how she spends every night with her daughter fearing one of those fits could steal her away as she sleeps.

Now their story has taken a real turn for the worse.

On Tuesday night, 30-year-old Danielle was holding a vigil at her daughter’s intensive care bide in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children‘s following an hour-long seizure this afternoon.

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Danielle and Sophia’s dad Darren are now asking for prayers for their very sick little girl.

They said: “Sophia ne everyone’s prayers and well wishes more than ever.

“We can’t reply to everyone individually that have already sent messages or phone calls but we appreciate it and will up date you as we and the family know more.”

The Newtownards couple have been fighting for a permanent licence for medicinal cannabis with THC for their little girl for the past 18 months.

Danielle said treatment with the oil in Holland “significantly reduced her symptoms” and let them see the child she could be.

Dad Darren and Sophia
(Image: Gibson family)
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They believed they were on the cusp of receiving the first permanent licence in Northern Ireland for their daughter, when told they will now have to wait to appear before a new assessment panel being set up to consider such applications.

The Department of Health said on July 2: “The department continues to work closely with the Home Office on this important issue.

“We completely sympathise with the families who have been facing desperate situations as they try to find treatment. That is why the Home Office has taken action, creating an expert panel to review individual medicinal cannabis licence applications.”

Now she is in hospital, it is up to clinicians, under the Belfast Trust, to decide whether they apply for an emergency licence for the little girl.

Peter Carroll from End Our Pain is campaigning to help the Gibson family.

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He said: “No family should have to go through this trauma. They have been battling for 18 months and now they have to go through this newly established expert panel and it’s unfair.

“This should have been sorted out weeks ago.

“Sophia’s seizure took place mid afternoon today and lasted over an hour. It was a particularly severe seizure.

“My understanding is that the clinicians have got to say they would like the ability to use medical cannabis. We have put a lot of pressure on the government in the UK and in Northern Ireland.

“Our understanding is that people are going to try and make that happen if that request is made.

“But the clinicians have got to ask the Department of Health, who can say ‘yes, they can have an emergency licence‘.”

The Department of Health referred us to the Belfast Trust, who declined to comment.


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