DHB delays treatment application for teenager in coma

By June 8, 2015 Recent News

Stuff co.nz 8 June 2015
The bureaucratic delay in treating a teenager in an induced coma in Wellington Hospital is bordering on unethical, Labour MP Damien O’Connor says.

Alex Renton, 19, of Nelson, has been in hospital since early April and remains in “status epilepticus”,  a kind of prolonged seizure.

Capital & Coast District Health Board decided late on Friday to apply to the Ministry of Health for approval to use a marijuana extract to treat him.

His mother, Rose Renton, is begging the Government to approve treatment for her son, who has already endured more than 20 medications that have not worked.

The ministry is yet to receive the DHB’s application. A DHB  spokeswoman said staff would work on the application on Monday, and was expected it would be sent to the ministry in the next couple of days.

O’Connor, a former associate health minister, has been in contact with the Renton family and says he is outraged that bureaucracy has got in the way of saving someone’s life.

“As a previous minister, I’m well aware staff will work 24 hours a day to get something done and, if they’ll do that for a trade deal, then they should be doing it for a health matter,” he said.

The way Alex’s treatment had been handled was bordering on “unethical”.

O’Connor is also calling for Parliament to debate the issue of access to medicinal marijuana, particularly in cases such as Alex’s, where all conventional medications have already been tested.

Labour leader Andrew Little  agreed with O’Connor that it was time for a debate, and would support a bill on the matter.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said Alex’s case was another example of the law not working.

She said the current process put up too many barriers for doctors and families, and it was time to consider opening up access to medicinal marijuana.

ACT leader David Seymour and Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox were also open to a debate on the issue.

NZ First leader Winston Peters said nobody could stop a debate in Parliament but he’d want to be sure all other legal options were exhausted before considering granting access to medicinal marijuana.