Preschool asks boy, 3, to leave over cannabis treatment fears

A three-year-old boy with a catastrophic form of epilepsy, who was the first person in Ireland to be legally allowed used cannabis for medicinal purposes, has been asked to leave his preschool because of concerns by staff in relation to the treatment of his condition.

Tristan Forde, from Dunmanway, Co Cork, who suffers from Dravet syndrome, lived in Colorado for more than a year with his mother Yvonne Cahalane. She decided to relocate there to administer the medicinal cannabis to her son in a bid to help reduce the number and severity of his seizures.

Yvonne moved back to West Cork recently after she received a guarantee from the health minister that her administering of cannabis oil to her son was legal. She enrolled Tristan in Naíonra Bheanntraí last month.

Yvonne received a registered letter to her home this week stating there was no longer a place available to Tristan at the preschool in Bantry.

In discussions with the school prior to the letter, teachers had stated they were “afraid to deal with him” if he was to have a seizure. Ms Cahalane said one teacher told her if Tristan was to have a seizure, “she would not give him the cannabis as it was a controlled drug”.

The school also reportedly requested that Yvonne sit outside the room during class time in case something was to happen to Tristan.

Ms Cahalane told the Patricia Messinger Show on C103 that she was upset at the school’s decision.

“He was thrilled to go back to school. We are really disappointed. If he was sick we wouldn’t even bring him in. Epilepsy Ireland came in and provided training. We had an advanced paramedic come in and provide training. We signed an indemnity form. We signed emergency protocol. We asked them to write down a list of issues and the top of it was the cannabis oil.

“There is a stigma with his medicine. They said they were afraid to deal with him. That is why we provided as much training and information as we possibly could. There was nothing more we could possibly give them.”

Ms Cahalane said she hopes to get a preschool place for Tristan in another school. However, she is fearful of receiving similar feedback from other schools.

Management at the preschool issued a statement saying it was their policy “not to comment on such sensitive matters in a public forum”.



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