Middlesbrough MP 'wonders if cannabis could have helped son'

Image caption, Andy McDonald's son Rory died of an epileptic seizure, his son Freddie also has the condition

An MP whose teenage son died after an epileptic seizure has said he wonders "whether he would be with us now" if cannabis oil had been available to him.

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald's son Rory died in 2006, when he was 16.

He said watching the plight of a Northern Ireland mother, who had oil intended for her epileptic son confiscated from her, was "difficult".

He called on the government to allow a blanket exemption on the use of cannabis oil to alleviate the illness.

Mr McDonald's 23-year-old son Freddie also has epilepsy and needs 24-hour care.

The Labour MP said he had been moved by the story of Charlotte Caldwell, who attempted to bring in cannabis oil from Canada for her 12-year-old son Billy.

He said: "When you know what's needed and it's not being given to you, I'm afraid you will move mountains to make it happen, and my heart goes out to these families in these circumstances.

"They should be listened to and supported. They shouldn't have barriers put in their way. It does evoke very strong memories for me and my wife and it's been a difficult day."

He said current publicity around the treatment had left him wondering whether it may have helped his own son during the "arduous battle" against his seizures.

Image caption, Cannabis oil has been used to control Billy Caldwell's seizures

Mr McDonald said: "It does cross your mind and you just wonder whether he would be with us now if that had been an option that was made available to us."

The MP has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid about the issue.

He said: "Look, listen to the medics, listen to the doctors.

"If they say this is working, don't put anything in the way of bringing about that relief because these parents will be living in constant fear of sudden death from epilepsy and nobody wants to have that happen.

"I couldn't wish that on anybody."

Earlier Home Office minister Nick Hurd told the House of Commons that a panel of clinicians, led by England's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies, will advise ministers on any applications to prescribe the drug.

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