Coronavirus Likely Killed Girl Who Inspired a Huge Movement

Charlotte Figi succumbed to horrible illness that hit her whole family
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2020 12:40 AM CDT
Updated Apr 9, 2020 4:00 AM CDT
Coronavirus Likely Killed Girl Who Inspired a Huge Movement
In this Feb. 7, 2014 photo, Matt Figi hugs his once severely-ill daughter Charlotte, 7, inside a greenhouse for a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web, which was named after the girl early in her treatment, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

By age 7, Charlotte Figi had inspired a movement and changed the way CBD is used for medicinal purposes. On Tuesday, at age 13, she died—likely as a result of the coronavirus. As the Colorado Sun reports, Charlotte's mom, Paige, had been posting on Facebook for weeks about a serious illness that had hit their family. Though symptoms included fever, coughing, and breathing difficulties, the family didn't meet the criteria to get tested for COVID-19, but as Charlotte's symptoms worsened, she was ultimately admitted to the hospital on April 3. A test for the illness came back negative (though the Sun notes it is known to produce false negatives), but she was treated on a floor for COVID-19 patients using COVID-19 protocols. She seemed to improve and was discharged Sunday, but on Tuesday suffered a seizure, respiratory failure, and cardiac arrest, returned to the hospital as a "likely COVID-19 case," and didn't make it.

Charlotte started having seizures at 3 months old and was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. She was not expected to survive past age 8, CNN reports. Pharmaceutical treatments didn't work, and she struggled to walk, talk, and feed herself by age 5. Then her parents heard about CBD oil, which is made from the non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, being used to treat seizures in a California child. They found a Colorado Springs medical pot dispensary willing to help, and on CBD oil, Charlotte thrived. Her parents ultimately weaned her off her anti-epileptic pharmaceutical drugs, and she started playing, walking, and feeding herself. The dispensary's oil was renamed "Charlotte's Web" for her, and her story changed the public perception of cannabis, helped change medical pot laws—and helped many other children with medical needs. See the Sun for more of her story. (More coronavirus stories.)

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