It’s the worst news that any mother could hear that her child is facing a life threatening disease and Leanne Tilsley (Jane Danson) is in denial as she is adamant that the test results will come back clear and Oliver is going to be fine in Coronation Street.
The young lad has suffered serious seizures and doctors have warned that it could be mitochondrial disease – and that Oliver may have incurred brain damage.
As the doctor explains that they are going to start bringing Oliver round, Leanne anxiously orders Nick (Ben Price) home to get his red car toy for some familiarity.
She is over the moon when he later calls her ‘mummy’ but the doctor tries to gently reduce expectations by reminding everyone that Oliver is seriously ill – and might have brain damage.
As Nick and Steve (Simon Gregson) worry that Leanne is blocking out the reality of the situation, the mum is overjoyed when she is told Oliver can go home while they wait for test results.
What is mitochondrial disease?
Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, specialized compartments present in every cell of the body (except red blood cells).
Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support organ function. When they fail, less and less energy is generated within the cell. Cell injury and even cell death follow. If this process is repeated throughout the body, whole organ systems begin to fail.
The parts of the body, such as the heart, brain, muscles and lungs, requiring the greatest amounts of energy are the most affected.
Symptoms vary depending on the organ(s) affected but may include seizures, atypical cerebral palsy, autistic features, developmental problems, fainting and temperature instability.
According to The Lily Foundation, the prognosis depends upon the severity of the disease and other criteria. As more research funds are raised to find more effective treatments and ultimately a cure, some of the affected children and adults are living fairly normal lives with mitochondrial disease.
In other cases, children may not be able to see, hear, talk or walk. Affected children may not survive beyond their teenage years. Adult onset can result in drastic changes from an active lifestyle to a debilitating ilness is a short amount of time.
Treatment plans vary from patient to patient but involve therapies, diet changes and other means to try and slow the progress of the disease.
You can find out more information from the NHS here.
But while Leanne acts as if everything is normal, deep down she fears the worst – and that worst could soon be confirmed.
Boss Iain MacLeod told Metro.co.uk: ‘In Oliver’s case it was latent from first then manifest in 3-4. There are 100s maybe thousands of strands so his case is different. He was been asymptomatic but his diagnosis means he is going to have a seriously limited lifespan. It then goes on with how everyone copes with that – Leanne and Steve are bonded tightly more than ever and the difficulty is Tracy and Nick feel shut out from that little triangle.
‘But it makes you the worst person in the world to express that so they try to support the one they love while keeping their own emotions to the side.
‘Everyone will be permanently changed behind it but after they’ve been through the fire these relationships are lifelong and once you have been through something like this, it will make them stronger than ever before.’
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