Charlotte Figi, the 13-year-old from Colorado whose bravery changed the way the world views medicinal cannabis, has tragically died from complications possibly related to COVID-19.
Late Tuesday evening, a Figi family friend posted an update on Facebook with the news that little Charlotte had passed, stating “Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love.”
For the past several weeks, Paige Figi, Charlotte’s mother, has been posting updates on her Facebook page indicating that she and the other four members of her household were all sick and staying quarantined. The family did not fit all the criteria for COVID-19 testing, so they were told by medical professionals to stay home and self-quarantine.
As time in quarantine passed at a sluggish rate, Charlotte’s symptoms began to worsen. The Figis took her to the hospital where she was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Charlotte was treated on the COVID-19 designated floor, ultimately testing negative for the virus.
Charlotte was released from the hospital on April 5 and returned home showing strong signs of improvement.
Then, in the early hours of April 7, Charlotte had a seizure that led to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. Paramedics rushed her back to the PICU where she was again treated as a likely COVID-19 case. She passed peacefully in her mother’s arms.
According to the Denver Post, Charlotte’s death has not officially been attributed to COVID-19 by Colorado state officials. If Charlotte’s death is confirmed as a result of COVID-19, it would make her the youngest person to die from the virus in the state.
Charlotte Figi: A Pioneer
Charlotte has endured seizures, sometimes hundreds a week, since she was three months old as a result of developing the catastrophic form of childhood epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome. Despite being prescribed a host of pharmaceutical medications, neither her symptoms nor her quality of life improved. Frustrated by the lack of results and the pain of watching her child suffer, her mother began searching for alternative ways to assist Charlotte’s battle with Dravet.
Countless trips to hospitals and specialists, sleepless nights and constant worry paved the first five years of Charlotte’s life. But her mother was not willing to accept the limited options for helping her beloved daughter. In their search for information about Dravet, Paige and her husband Matt discovered a video showing a California boy whose Dravet was being successfully treated using cannabis. The video referenced that the strain was low in THC and high in CBD. The Figi’s knew they were on the right track, but there would be challenges ahead.
In order to gain access to medical marijuana under Colorado’s newly adopted marijuana policies, the Figis needed to find two doctors to recommend Charlotte for the program. This proved no easy task, as Charlotte was also the youngest applicant in the state to ever apply. They continued to search and finally found two doctors who would sign off on Charlotte’s medical marijuana card, and quickly purchased her first round of treatment from a dispensary in Denver.
The Figis experienced immediate success using the extracted oil from the marijuana purchased, so they continued their investigation. This led them to the Stanley Brothers, who at the time were cultivating marijuana in Colorado. At first, the Stanleys were skeptical about making cannabis oil for someone as young as Charlotte, but after they met, there was no turning back.
The following years would lead to drastic improvements in Charlotte’s health and quality of life. The Stanley Brothers pursued the development of special hemp genetics that were naturally high in CBD and low in THC, which would prove to help Charlotte and the thousands of others suffering from epilepsy. This phenomenon led to the creation of the company Charlotte’s Web, who, together with Charlotte, took the world by storm with their truth about the medical benefits of cannabis.
Charlotte Figi was an inspiration. Her legacy will live on.
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