Co Tyrone mum sleeping rough in LA to pay for son’s medical bills

Billy Caldwell with some of the camping equipment his mother bought in preparation for sleeping rough
Billy Caldwell with some of the camping equipment his mother bought in preparation for sleeping rough

A brokenhearted mum from Northern Ireland says she is being forced to sleep rough in Los Angeles to pay for a controversial treatment for her seriously ill son.

Charlotte Caldwell took the drastic step of moving to America so that her son might receive treatment involving the use of medicines derived from cannabis – medicines banned in the UK but which are increasingly gaining acceptance thanks to encouraging medical results.

Her 11-year-old son, Billy, has a serious life-threatening form of epilepsy.

A fundraising campaign to help the family pay for the medical treatment, which Charlotte said is helping with Billy’s seizures, has already raised over £100,000.

Billy and Charlotte have been in America for five months, where he has been seeing specialists and taking a form of cannabis oil on prescription.

Despite people’s generosity, the situation has taken a turn for the worse, Charlotte said, due to the highly expensive nature of the medical costs.

The heartbroken mum, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, wrote about the worrying situation on the ‘Keep Billy Alive’ Facebook page.

“Our situation now critical here in L.A. After much thought this weekend I had to make a horrendous decision,” she wrote.

Charlotte said the situation has come about after Billy had to be rushed to hospital following a seizure, which she said had been the first in some time thanks to the treatment.

Two weeks ago he was rushed to hospital after a series of seizures and while he emerged from a medically induced coma, the hospital costs have tipped the finances over the edge.

“Due to Billy’s unforeseen hospitalisation we have huge medical costs to pay, plus Billy’s CBD/THC,” Charlotte said.

“To date we have raised enough funds to part pay these costs, leaving us with no funds to sustain our accommodation here in LA.

“My priority as Billy’s mummy is to keep his life-saving treatment going. I have to keep Billy alive.

“On that note, something has to give. I have no other choice or option but to forfeit our accommodation so as I can continue to sustain my wee epilepsy warrior’s medical needs.”

She continued: “Believe me folks, it is with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes I am writing this post.

“Yesterday me and Billy went and bought a tent, camping cooker, sleeping bags etc to equip ourselves for the unthinkable, homelessness in L.A.”

Charlotte added: “Please folks keep us in your prayers as we embark on what is going to be most likely our toughest journey yet.”