Charlotte Figi, 13, whose epilepsy seizure relief from CBD was an early inspiration for medical cannabis treatments, died Tuesday. Photo by Nichole Montanez, courtesy of Greg Iafeliece
DENVER, April 8 (UPI) -- Charlotte Figi, 13, the Colorado child whose seizure relief inspired Charlotte's Web medical marijuana and CBD, died in Colorado Springs of cardiac arrest, her family said.
Charlotte had been hospitalized after flu-like symptoms struck the family, her stepfather, Greg Iafeliece, said. The child then was released to go home.
On Tuesday, she was found unresponsive and taken back to the hospital, where she died, Iafeliece said.
While no cause of death was given, the family believes she suffered cardiac arrest due to her fragile health condition, he said.
Family members had been dealing for weeks with symptoms that could have been related to COVID-19, Iafeliece said. The rest of family has recovered, he said.
After symptoms worsened earlier this month, Charlotte was hospitalized "in a regular nursing unit," Iafeliece said.
"Her mother had been traveling on airplanes, and we knew what we had our symptoms, but we were told, 'Well, you haven't come into contact with anyone from China, so you're not going to get tested,'" Iafeliece said.
"[Charlotte] was a light that lit the world. She was a little girl who carried us all on her small shoulders," a statement on the Charlotte's Web website said.
Charlotte's life "created a revolutionary movement in legitimizing cannabis as a therapeutic option," said a Facebook post from Realm of Caring, a non-profit medical marijuana advocacy group founded by Paige Figi, Charlotte's mother.
"Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever," family friend Nichole Montanez posted on Facebook.
As an infant, Figi suffered from grand mal seizures from a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. Her parents turned to CBD, then a low-THC-strain of hemp-derived medical marijuana, after years of trying other medications.
The CBD cure had reduced her seizures to three or four per month, her family said.
CBD is derived from hemp, a cousin of the cannabis plant that contains psychoactive THC. Charlotte's Web sells products made of strains of medical marijuana with low THC and CBD, with little or trace amounts of THC.
Charlotte's story inspired other families with seizure-prone children to move to Colorado after the state legalized marijuana in 2014.
Boulder-based Charlotte's Web's low-THC medical marijuana was developed by six southern Colorado siblings, and is now one of the best-selling CBD brands in the United States.