SPECIAL REPORT: Hope for Maggie
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (CBS2/FOX28) - With the legislative session soon winding down, the Iowa House rejected a last-ditch effort Wednesday night to bring to the floor a comprehensive medical marijuana bill passed by the Senate.
Parents of chronically ill children have actually left Iowa because they can't get the life-changing medicine that many other states offer.
Last year at this time, we traveled to Colorado and showed you the benefits of cannabis oil among epilepsy patients.
Now, we are checking in on the remarkable progress made by one little girl.
Maggie Selmeski just turned three, surrounded by friends and family in Colorado Springs. Even her grandfather from Iowa came to help celebrate, and he has good reason.
"The year now, year-and-a-half that she's been on medical marijuana, we have made strides well beyond any of us could imagine," said Kevin Leyem of Reinbeck.
Maggie once suffered more than five-hundred seizures a day and the pharmaceuticals she was taking only made matters worse. When we last saw Maggie, her parents had weaned her from all but one drug, Keppra, thanks to the cannabis oil they were giving her. Within five months, they saw a 30-40% reduction in seizures. Today, Maggie is pharmaceutical-free and may have some spasms when she wakes up.
"Sometimes, sometimes not. But very limited. I would say we're at a 70-80% reduction from where she was. At least," said Maggie's mom, Rachael Selmeski.
One year ago, Maggie was quiet, even catatonic. Compare that to today.
Make no mistake, the Selmeski's still have a medically fragile child, but their quality of life now...
"I think the quality of life portion is huge," said Maggie's father, Shawn Selmeski. "That's one of the things that's really hard to quantify. But when we look back on her short three years at this point, we see a child who was on the verge of death and we could lose her at any second because the seizures were so terrible. She was so suppressed with all the pharmaceuticals. There was nothing happening. The only time she moved was when she'd have a seizure. To now, she talks, she moves, she tells us when she's unhappy. We're starting to be able to communicate with her."
There are side effects of Maggie's medical marijuana which now includes a bit more THC.
"The funny thing is when people ask about side effects you're expecting negatives. Um, we can't come up with a negative," said Rachael.
Adds Shawn, "There's definitive growth in the cognitive areas. And that's incredible."
"I watched the therapy and some of these switches that Maggie is operating with her foot andit's happening! I'm mean, it is really there," insists Leyem, "and there's some communication, even some words forming at times and we really haven't seen a lot of that."
Bottom line, says dad, Maggie is developing more and more like a normal three-year-old. And while the family still thinks of others back in Iowa who are struggling to get medical marijuana, they're happy in their new home.
"Thank goodness we moved. Thank goodness that we did what we had to do for Maggie because we could be in the same exact shoes. And that's crappy when it's based on a zip code," said Rachael.
Polls show the majority of Iowa voters support medical marijuana.
If you want this issue debated again next legislative session, the Selmeski's urge you to contact your state representatives. Click here for their contact information.