Charlotte Figi, the Colorado Springs girl who, as a gleeful and fragile child, launched a movement that led to sweeping changes in marijuana laws across the globe, has died from complications possibly related to the new coronavirus.
She was 13.
Charlotte’s death was announced by a family friend Tuesday night on the Facebook page of her mother, Paige Figi.
“Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love,” read the post, which also asked the public to respect Figi’s family’s privacy.
Paige Figi had posted in recent weeks on Facebook about a serious illness that sickened all the members of her family with fever, coughing and breathing difficulties and sent Charlotte to the hospital.
In an update Wednesday to the Facebook post announcing Charlotte’s death, Paige Figi said the family did not initially meet the criteria for testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, so they self-treated at home, as instructed. Charlotte’s symptoms worsened, and she was admitted to the hospital on April 3, where she was tested for COVID-19.
The test result came back negative — though the coronavirus test has been beset with false negatives. Figi wrote that Charlotte was treated on a floor designated for COVID-19 patients, “using all of the medical protocols set in place.”
She was discharged from the hospital on Sunday, after her condition seemed to improve. She suffered a seizure Tuesday morning resulting in respiratory failure and cardiac arrest, however, and she was taken back to the hospital, where she was treated “as a likely COVID-19 case.” Figi said seizures commonly occur along with illnesses in children like Charlotte with Dravet syndrome.
“Her fighting spirit held out as long as it could and she eventually passed in our arms peacefully,” Paige Figi wrote.
Early Wednesday, the Realm of Caring Foundation, an organization co-founded by Paige Figi, wrote on Facebook that Charlotte’s death was due to complications from COVID-19. But the organization later amended the post to remove the reference to the coronavirus.
If her death is verified by public health officials as related to COVID-19, Charlotte would be the youngest victim of the pandemic in Colorado so far. A spokeswoman for El Paso County Public Health said Wednesday that the department cannot comment about individual cases. But she said the county, at least yet, does not have any confirmed pediatric deaths from COVID-19.
“Your work is done Charlotte, the world is changed, and you can now rest knowing that you leave the world a better place,” the Realm of Caring Foundation wrote on Instagram.
Dravet syndrome is a rare and debilitating form of epilepsy that first appears when children are young. From the time she was just 3 months old, Charlotte suffered hundreds of small and large seizures a day. Pharmaceutical treatments proved ineffective, and, by the age of 5, Charlotte struggled to walk and talk and required a feeding tube.
After hearing about a family in California that treated their child’s seizures with oil made from cannabis, Paige Figi began to research the possibility and soon connected with a Colorado Springs medical marijuana dispensary owner named Joel Stanley, who, along with his brothers, had helped developed a strain of cannabis rich in cannabidiol, or CBD, a non-psychoactive compound.
Courtesy of a colleague