Emma Williams – Founder & CEO of Matthew’s Friends
“Does Your Clinic Treat People with Brain Tumors?”
Recorded at The Charlie Foundation’s 5th Global Symposium for Ketogenic Therapies in Banff, Alberta, Canada
Matthew’s Friends are a UK registered
charity (since 2004) specializing exclusively
in medical Ketogenic Dietary Therapies.
We support patients, families and
professionals by providing information,
training, research and grants to develop
Ketogenic services and support systems for
drug resistant (refractory) epilepsy as well as
other neurological and metabolic disorders
and emerging cancer types.
Our charity is supported by key medical
experts in these fields so as to ensure the
safety and efficacy of our information.
Emma Williams is a single mum to Matthew aged 21 and Alice aged 19. Matthew started having seizures at the age of 9 months. No matter what medication was tried, Matthew’s seizures got progressively worse as did the side effects of the drugs he was given. He suffered terrible brain damage as a result and his life was in danger on numerous occasions. When Matthew was just 2 years old Emma found out about the Ketogenic Diet but every time she asked Matthew’s Neurologist to try the diet she was told that it didn’t work, it was disgusting and medication was the best option. Only when Matthew was 7 years old did she finally get the chance to get Matthew onto the diet thanks to the trial that Professor Helen Cross was carrying out at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Within 2 weeks of starting the diet Matthew’s seizures had reduced by 90% and within 8 months he was off all medication. The Ketogenic Diet was the best thing to ever happen to Matthew as his quality of life has had a 100% improvement. Matthew was weaned off the diet after 6 years and he maintains the good quality of life the diet gave him to this day. Emma discovered that the diet DID work, it was NOT disgusting, it was NOT difficult to do and for some people, medication does not always work and because of this she started the Matthew’s Friends Charity in 2004 to share her experiences with others, provide support and promote the use of the ketogenic diet for those suffering with intractable epilepsy. She knew that others in her situation were being told the same thing and they deserved the chance to make an informed choice.
Today Emma is one of the world’s leading advocates for ketogenic dietary therapies and has worked full time in this field for over 14 years, as well as bringing up Matthew and Alice single handed. Not only does she have over 6 year’s personal experience of managing her own son with these diets, she has supported thousands of other families through Matthew’s Friends and other ketogenic centres around the globe. She has written numerous magazine articles, featured in many television/radio interviews and co-authored several papers on the Ketogenic Dietary therapies with some of the leading Ketogenic medical experts from around the globe. Emma is invited to speak at a considerable number of International meetings and was the pioneer behind Nutricia’s global ‘Cooking with Ketocal’ Campaign. She is an International Patron for the ‘Diets for Epilepsy in India’ organisation and she is also the only non-medical member of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) Task Force for Dietary Therapies for Epilepsy.
ILAE Task Force for Dietary Therapies of Epilepsy
She has served on the Executive Board of the Joint Epilepsy Council in the UK and is the current chair of Dravet Syndrome UK (the condition that Matthew was diagnosed with at the age of 14). With branches of Matthew’s Friends now registered in New Zealand and Canada, she works with her Country CEO’s to make sure that the mission of Matthew’s Friends is continued so that ketogenic dietary therapies are available to all those who may need them and could benefit from them. Emma continues her work and still supports families 7 days a week, 365 days a year and provides training and education to schools, hospices, respite centres and all those who request information. As ketogenic therapy progresses into other areas, Emma continues her work with professionals and families to ensure that training to provide ketogenic dietary therapies is extensive and always in the best interests of ‘those we serve’ – the families, which has always been Emma’s driving force. Matthew has recently celebrated his 21st Birthday and Alice is currently at Medical School studying to be a doctor.
2013 saw her awarded an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen for her services to Children with Epilepsy.