A Centerville woman whose daughter has Dravet syndrome wants the opportunity to add medicinal marijuana to her lengthy list of medications.
Laura Cossolotto’s 17-year-old daughter, Michaela, was diagnosed with the disease when she was 10 1/2 years old during a visit at Mayo Clinic. The diagnosis was hard coming for the Cossolotto family, who had seen virtually every neurologist at Blank’s Children Hospital in Des Moines and the hospitals in Iowa City and one time was told she had febrile seizures which are benign and the patient outgrows.
Laura said her daughter had her first epileptic seizure at 6 months and hundreds more followed that prompted her to be life-flighted on eight separate occasions before she turned 3 years of age.
“We lived in the hospital for the first four years,” Laura said.
Michaela since has suffered through up to 10 grand mal seizures in one day. Grand mal seizures, also known as tonic-clonic, are the most violent and debilitating. While some stop on their own, Michaela’s have often lasted up to 3-6 hours in duration and necessitated drug induced comas.
Laura said when Michaela is struck with a grand mal seizure she looses consciousness, falls to the ground, often stops breathing, turns blue, drools and shakes violently. Dravet syndrome seizures can cause brain damage and death.
Michaela currently is taking five different anti-seizure medications, two different pain medications, two drugs to deal with the side effects, four supplements to counteract the negative effects of the anti-seizure medications and two steroid inhalers. She takes 100 pills a week.
Laura said Michaela goes into seizures despite all of the medications she takes. She said they have tried every anti-seizure medication; sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.
Laura believes medical marijuana is an option that can help her daughter and others with Dravet and possibly replace some of the medications she takes.