Charlotte Figi was born on October 18, 2006, along with her twin sister Chase, to Matt and Paige Figi. She was a happy baby until the first seizure hit her when she was three months old.
At first, it was was not something to make her parents worry much, but as the number grew up to 300 seizures per week, her life and that of the entire family ceased to be normal.
With more seizures striking her, her cognitive ability was quickly declining, and no answers were forthcoming to explain why this was happening. It was after two years that doctors were finally able to give a name to her ailment. Her seizures were being caused by an extreme form of epileptic condition known as Dravet syndrome that starts in infancy.
The diagnosis was the start of a long journey in search of a solution. The Figis tried everything, including acupuncture and diet management, but nothing seemed to work. To top it off, the side effects of the pharmaceutical medication were taking a toll on Charlotte. Some doctors were proposing to either try a veterinary drug used on epileptic dogs or put her in a medically induced coma to give her body and mind a rest from the pain and exhaustion the disease was bringing her. Matt and Paige had even signed a DNR (do not resuscitate).
While serving in Afghanistan, Matt came across a video online of a kid using medical marijuana to control epileptic seizures. Although Matt had never used marijuana in his life, he was able to convince hesitant Paige that it was necessary to give marijuana a try on their daughter.
The challenge, however, was finding the two physicians required by law willing to prescribe medical marijuana for their five-year-old Charlotte.
Luckily, they found Margaret Gedde and Alan Shackelford, two doctors who were already involved with medical marijuana. The two doctors recognized that Charlotte had no other options and had tried every other available options except cannabis.
Armed with their prescription, the Figis found a low-THC and high-CBD supply in one of Denver’s marijuana dispensaries that was going for $2000. It worked the first time they tried it, but the supply of such marijuana was the last in the store, leading to concern over where to get more.
This changed when they met the Stanley brothers, renowned marijuana growers in Colorado, who had exactly what they were looking for. It was a marijuana plant that received little interest from many because of its lack of psychoactive potency. It had low THC but high CBD, and the Stanley brothers offered the Figis a supply at a much cheaper price.
The Stanley brothers have since named this plant Charlotte’s Web, and it has become a source of hope to many families travelling from around the country for the sake of their ailing kids.
The Figis, especially Paige, have been instrumental in pushing for appropriate legislation and infrastructure building to help many kids like Charlotte access treatment. Their story was recently told in the Sanjay Gupta documentary, “Weed.”
It turns out that a kid whose parents had signed a DNR because everything looked so bleak has not only regained her life but also created a path for many like her to follow.