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The parents of a little girl in New York who were helping to fight for legal medical cannabis in the state are in mouring. The brave little girl named Olivia Marie Newton passed away due to her severe epilepsy on July 10th, 2014, shortly before 7 am.
The family is devastated, rightly so, though there has been an outpouring of community support in the wake of this tragic but preventable loss. After all, New York’s governor just signed a medical cannabis law, called the Compassionate Care Act, into law. Unfortunately for Olivia and very ill children like her, the eighteen months the state needs to set up the program was too long of a wait.
Olivia struggled with epilepsy her entire life. She was unable to see from the day she was born. The blindness was caused by seizures, which stopped until she was two months old. When they came back, they did so with a vengeance. Her family lovingly supported her through more than 50 hospitalizations and watched, powerless, as her little body was wracked by dozens of seizures a day.
Olivia was put on more than 35 medications, none of which actually stopped the seizures. She suffered from moderate brain atrophy due to the number of seizures she was having. She was never able to see, sit up, walk, or even hold her head up on her own. To the Newton family, cannabis was a last option, one that Olivia’s doctors were reportedly optimistic about. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a legally available option for little Olivia when she needed it most.
Now, her family has had to hold a funeral for their beloved daughter, who they cared for throughout her life and illness. They held a memorial, and words of support and love came pouring in from those fighting a similar battle or who had suffered a similar loss. Many of Olivia’s supporters take comfort in the idea of her whole and healthy in heaven, able to walk and see. If community support is any indication, this little girl’s light will go on shining for many years to come.
Do you want to help support the Newton family, or reach out and offer them words of support and kindness after suffering such a tragic loss? Their Facebook group, Prayers for Olivia Marie Newton, can be found here.
There is also an online memorial page where people can send messages of love and support to the grieving Newton family here and a funding page that was dedicated to covering her (still due and payable) medical bills.
Photo Credit: The Newton Family