Update on Grace – ‘My daughter died waiting’ for medical cannabis

It saddens our hearts to report that 20 month old from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Grace Witwer, has died.  Grace was born a healthy baby girl, but at four months old things changed.

“Her first seizure lasted a grueling 45 minutes,” her mother Becky Witwer said.

Grace was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. One night the seizures were just too much for her little body.

“When I went to bed I found her,” Witwer said.

“She was blue and we had to do CPR. There were no signs of life, but I was just hoping,” her father Richard Witwer said. “It was too late.”

At just 20 months old, Grace was gone. Twelve days after she left this earth, her parents were back at the Capitol with a message. Crying behind a podium in the Rotunda, Grace’s mom pleaded with lawmakers to legalize medical cannabis.

“My daughter died waiting,” she said.

Grace’s parents were hoping to try medical cannabis oil, but they never got the chance. A bill to legalize it passed in the Senate but has stalled in the House.

 

“I want to ask the legislators standing in the way of the compassionate bill why wasn’t she worth it, why didn’t she deserve a chance? How many children have to die?” Becky Witwer said. “I will never get her back. I will never hear her laugh again, but others can be saved. Do not wait another day to pass this bill.”

The Senate approved SB 3 by a vote of 40-7 in May, and Gov. Tom Wolf has said he would sign a medical marijuana bill into law.

Parents and families joined Witwer at the State Capitol in Harrisburg Monday to plead to lawmakers to come up with effective medical cannabis legislation. Their rally comes as members of the House prepare to amend and vote on a bill that has been stalled for months.

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State Representative Mike Regan (R-Cumberland and York Counties) is helping in the fight. He said it will take some time for the current legislation to be amended and before the House considers it. A vote was scheduled for Tuesday, but Regan said December is more likely. “I’m sure there is going to be a lot of amendments, and things that are going to happen, but I think December is probably realistic,” he said.

Although Witwer no longer has Grace to fight for, she is still fighting, to make sure other families don’t have to endure the pain that now consumes her.

“My baby is dead. I will never get her back. I will never hear her laugh again. But others can be saved. Don’t wait another day to pass this bill,” Witwer said.

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