Little Tristan Cahalane suffers from a rare, severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome, which left him coping daily with debilitating seizures which could last more than an hour and resulted in him being regularly hospitalised.
The two-year-old Cork child was on nine medications from the age of five months, but now he is down to just two prescription medications and a special strain of cannabis oil medicine which has left him virtually seizure-free.
Since relocating to the U.S. last December with his mother Yvonne and his four-year-old brother Oscar, the two-year-old has become a completely different child.
"I don't think we ever saw him properly", said his delighted mum. "We never saw his character because from five months he was on medications.
"It's made a huge difference to Tristan's life. He's alert, he has an appetite, he can speak for himself, eat for himself, walk, run, play…none of which he was able to do before he started cannabis medicine."
Before they left for the Children's Hospital Colorado last December, Tristan had stopped talking and walking after a harrowing ordeal of relentless seizures.
"It wasn't until he started cannabis that he started babbling, singing to tunes. Now, God, he is constantly singing doing his ABCs, counting on his fingers. We do physio up and down the steps and he'll count in English going down and count in Irish going up," said Yvonne.
"He is a devil. He just a pure joker. He will try and make everyone laugh. He's just so funny."
She said the seizures in children with her son's condition can be life-threatening and result in paralysis or development delay in the brain.
She said: "He can die. It's as simple as that. Kids I meet here in Colorado who weren't able to start on cannabis as early as Tristan did, they are wheelchair-bound and they don't speak and have developmental delay to the point where they are not interactive."
Yvonne took the difficult step of leaving her husband John behind in their west Cork home in Dunmanway last December to move to Colorado with Tristan and his brother Oscar.
She said: "No-one should be forced to separate from their families. It is sad that John has missed a whole year of our boys' lives."
She said she is confident that a huge amount of work with the medical profession and the Irish government will make it possible for Tristan to be able to come home and stay on his medication.
"It's still illegal, but we're talking between medical and government and it's progressing every day. Tristan can't be without his cannabis oil, which is made especially for him."
To sign a petition to get Tristan's cannabis oil made legal in Ireland go to the link here
Original story by Lynne Kelleher at Sunday World.
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