Charlotte Figi, the Colorado girl with epilepsy who helped ignite the medical-cannabis movement that eventually changed laws around the world, has died at the age of 13. The cause of death? Complications due to coronavirus.
Charlotte suffered from Dravet syndrome, a type of epilepsy, and by age 5 she was experiencing as many as 300 grand mal seizures a week. The little girl needed to use a wheelchair, went into repeated cardiac arrest, could barely speak, and needed a feeding tube.
When modern medicine proved useless, her parents began calling local medical marijuana stores. This brought them into contact with the Stanley brothers, who own a Colorado Springs dispensary. The group worked together, eventually creating a cannabis strain that could help Charlotte.
Named Charlotte’s Web, the oil contained a high concentration of CBD and a low concentration of the psychoactive component THC. (For more info on those items, check out Parentology’s Guide to Marijuana.) Charlotte’s symptoms largely disappeared, and news spread, leading other families to turn to CBD products to help their children with seizures. This, then, extended to others suffering from chronic conditions.
Charlotte’s story is credited for helping ignite the modern medical-cannabis movement, which changed both public perception and laws regarding marijuana use.
Charlotte Figi — Cause of Death
Charlotte’s cause of death was not originally announced but Paige Figi, Charlotte’s mother, posted updated information on her Facebook page. She writes:
We’d like to clarify some of the information that has been shared. Our entire family had been ill for close to a month starting early March, but did not initially fit all of the criteria for COVID-19 testing. For that reason, we were told to self-treat at home unless the symptoms worsened. Charlotte’s symptoms worsened, so she was admitted to the PICU on April 3rd. She was treated on the COVID-19 designated floor using all of the medical protocols set in place. On Friday April 3rd, she was tested, the results were negative for COVID-19 and discharged on Sunday April 5th when she seemingly began to improve. Charlotte had a seizure in the early morning on April 7th resulting in respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. Seizures are not uncommon with illness and paramedics were called returning us to the PICU. Given our family’s month-long history with illness and despite the negative test results, she was treated as a likely COVID-19 case. Her fighting spirit held out as long as it could and she eventually passed in our arms peacefully.
Paige then goes on to thank the staff at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs. The full Facebook note is posted below.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, to make a contribution to the Realm of Caring, the organization co-founded by Charlotte’s mother.