The ongoing storyline of a child with mitochondrial disease in Coronation Street is sensitively and accurately capturing the reality of the muscle-wasting condition.
We provided advice to the producers back in 2016 on an earlier storyline about a muscle-wasting condition and are delighted with how this story has developed with the support of our colleagues at the Lily Foundation.
The show’s characters Steve McDonald and Leanne Battersby were told by doctors that their son Oliver’s seizures were caused by asymptomatic mitochondrial disease, meaning his symptoms were not immediately present at birth.
What is mitochondiral myopathy?
Mitochondrial myopathy is a genetic condition caused by a loss of power to the cells in the body because the mitochondria are unable to produce energy.
Although there is currently no treatment available, Muscular Dystrophy UK is funding research to examine its underlying causes.
Six million viewers tuned in this September to see Leanne and Steve told that Oliver’s seizures were beyond doctors’ control, with life support the only thing keeping him alive.
Leanne went on to contact a specialist doctor in Germany, but this week has been told treatment isn’t appropriate for Oliver.
The Lily Foundation was set up by Liz Curtis in memory of her daughter Lily who died from the disease at eight months old.
Liz said: “For everyone who has worked hard for years to raise awareness about mitochondrial diseases, in particular for families living with a diagnosis and those who have lost a child, having their story told on one of the nation’s most popular soap operas is truly momentous news.”
The Sun recently featured an interview with a woman who said she couldn’t watch the show because of how accurate she found the storyline to be. The Lily Foundation deserves praise for enabling Coronation Street to share the reality of this condition.
Coronation Street boss Iain MacLeod told Metro that centring a storyline around the “underfunded” disease was “an opportunity to draw attention to families’ struggles as better treatments need to be found for this illness”.
Professor Robert McFarland, from the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research, also worked with the Coronation Street team to ensure that scripts were accurate.
We look forward to the storyline’s development and encourage Coronation Street to continue working closely with The Lily Foundation to ensure it remains sensitive and accurate in its depiction of mitochondrial myopathy.
For anyone affected by the storyline please call our free helpline which is available Monday to Friday 10am–2pm on 0800 652 6352, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org