Children in south west London who suffer from a drug-resistant form of epilepsy will be able to try a special diet that can control their seizures from today following a campaign by a local charity to raise thousands of pounds for a specialist dietitian at St George’s Hospital.

The Daisy Garland charity has raised ?48,000 for a children’s ketogenic dietitian who can prescribe special high-fat meals that prompt the body to produce a seizure-inhibiting substance called a ketone when fat is burned for fuel.

The charity was founded last year by the parents of Daisy Garland, a five-year-old girl from West Wimbledon, who died suddenly in her sleep in April 2004 after suffering a severe epileptic attack.

Lee-Anne McHarry, 28, is the first ketogenic dietitian to be funded by the charity.

“The ketogenic diet has been around since the 1920s but is rarely used,” says Lee-Anne.

“To know that a dietary therapy can have such a dramatic effect on the behaviour and development of a child who can’t take medication to control their epilepsy is amazing.

“With the help of the Daisy Garland Charity, we can give children who suffer from this rare condition the chance to have a better quality of life.”

Daisy Garland suffered from a rare form of epilepsy which could not be controlled by medication. In desperation, her parents, David and Sara, turned to the ketogenic diet to try to save their little girl.

The charity they set up in memory of their daughter aims to raise public awareness of epilepsy in children and to fund ketogenic dietitians throughout the UK.

David Garland, Daisy’s father, said:

“Anti-epileptic medication didn’t work for Daisy and from the age of 18 months her seizures were managed by the ketogenic diet.

“We truly believe the diet prolonged Daisy’s life and rescued us a family.

“Our dream is to fund Daisy Garland Ketogenic Dietitians through the UK, offering children like Daisy the chance of having intractable epilepsy controlled by this amazing diet.”

Nicole dos Santos, chief paediatric dietitian at St George’s Hospital, says:

“A large proportion of children with epilepsy have seizures that are resistant to medication. This can impair their ability to learn and reach their full potential.

“The ketogenic diet is an accepted therapy for children with hard to control seizures and consists of training the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates for fuel.

“For some, the ketogenic diet results in a better quality of life with fewer side effects than any other therapy.

“We would like to thank the Garlands and their charity for their kind and very generous donation to the hospital. The post they have helped to create will benefit so many of the children we treat here for epilepsy.”

The Daisy Garland charity is a registered charity (No. 1106530). For more information about the charity, please visit

Notes to editors

  1. For more information, please contact Daniel Pople, Communications Manager at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, on 020 8725 5151 or e-mail
  2. The ketogenic diet was first developed in the 1920s at John Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore and is a mathematically calculated, doctor-supervised diet, which alters the body’s chemistry by simulating the metabolism of a fasting body.The ketogenic diet is high in fat and low in protein and carbohydrate, and is formulated to sustain the state of ketosis within the body. Ketosis occurs when the body principally burns fat instead of the more common energy source, carbohydrate. Ketones (the ash or residue left after the fat is burned) are concentrated in the blood and inhibit seizures, although the reason why is still not known.