12-year-old Annalise Lujan was at a gymnastics meet in April when she fell ill. She began vomiting and lost all feeling in her legs. When she started seizing, her parents rushed her to the hospital, where doctors placed her in a medically-induced coma to prevent brain damage.
After being flown to a specialist unit at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Annalise was diagnosed with a rare epilepsy syndrome known as febrile infection-related epilepsy syndrome or FIRES. Annalise’s condition would cause her to suffer from constant seizures, leading to brain injury or death. Doctors were forced to keep Annalise in a coma until they found an effective way to prevent her seizures.
FIRES is a rare condition that occurs when a virus spreads to the brain or the autoimmune system following a cold or the stomach flu. Annalise’s mother, Maryann Estrada-Lujan said, “One day, she was just a healthy young lady, going to school, participating in her community and her gymnastics, and the next day – fighting for her life. She was put on a ventilator, and put into a medical coma, and, we haven’t talked to her since.”
Maryann researched alternative options for her daughter, knowing that anti-epilepsy medication would not be effective in treating her daughter’s condition. She found cannabidiol, a drug derived from cannabis.
After just three treatments, doctors were able to bring Annalise out of a coma on May 8. Cannabidiol has been effective at preventing Annalise’s seizures. She’s currently in therapy to her regain her cognitive abilities.
While cannabidiol was able to help Annalise, medical experts has varying opinions on its overall effectiveness. Scientists believe that the medical benefits of cannabis need to be further examined before it can be made readily available to patients. But this isn’t the first time cannabis has been proven to help patients suffering from epilepsy. Despite the many success stories, the Epilepsy Foundation points out that there are “legal issues surrounding access of cannabis” that currently prevent it from being an option for many patients.
Watch the video below for a similar story about the miraculous effects of cannabinoid on a child with FIRES syndrome: