Mum of little Jack, who died from Mitochondrial Disease, praises Coronation Street storyline

The mother of a ‘bubbly, happy’ little boy who died from a rare disease has praised a Coronation Street storyline for raising awareness.

Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 9:17 am
Little Jack Crossan's family have praised a Coronation Street storyline.

Jack Crossan, the son of Mary Louise and Theo Crossan was just four years old when passed away in 2016 from Mitochondrial Disease.

Mitochondrial diseases result from failures of the mitochondria, which are specialised compartments present in every cell of the body.

Mary Louise told the Journal how mitochondria are like a body’s ‘powerhouse’ and control energy.

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“They run fine initially, but then can’t anymore, so everything starts to slow down.”

Next week, a child on Coronation Street will be diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease. The soap has been working closely with The Lily Foundation, a charity that supports families and funds research into mitochondrial disease.

In scenes set to be shown this week - (PLEASE NOTE, there are spoilers ahead) Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) and Steve McDonald (Simon Gregson) will receive devastating news when their three year old son Oliver (Emmanuel and Jeremiah Cheetham) is diagnosed with the illness.

Mary Louise praised the soap for featuring the storyline and said she hoped it would help other families. “When Jack was diagnosed, nobody was really able to really tell us much about it and we didn’t have a clue what was ahead. We would have loved to have had someone to talk to and hopefully this will mean other families will know where to go and who to speak to.”

Jack was born with Mitochondrial Disease but didn’t show any symptoms until he was six months old, when his parents noticed that he was ‘floppy.’

Doctors thought something was wrong with his neck, but when Mary Louise and Theo, who live in Letterkenny but are from Newtowncunningham and Buncrana respectively, became concerned he wasn’t developing properly, a private MRI scan was undertaken. This showed that Jack had abnormalities in his brain, which doctors thought may have been Cerebral Palsy.

But concerns were raised about Jack’s energy levels so he was referred to Dr Keane at Templestreet Children’s Hospital, where biopsies were taken and Mitrochondrial Disease was raised. The week before Mary Louise and Theo’s wedding, the tests came back as negative, but a second biopsy is always taken and this came back positive for Mitochondrial Depletion Syndrome.

Mary Louise told how Jack’s condition then deteriorated ‘really quickly’ over the course of a year and a half. “He suffered so much, but he was a wee rascal.” She said the Coronation Street storyline ‘will be hard to watch, but I’m really glad they’re doing it.’

Jack passed away on July 6, 2016 at the age of four years and 10 months. “He was very bubbly and bright, just a happy wee boy. The least thing would have entertained him. He loved hospital, even though he suffered so much, he loved the nurses, who were so good to him, and didn’t want to leave.”

Of his decision to tackle this difficult storyline, Coronation Street producer Iain MacLeod said: “The taboo around these illnesses can mean awareness is low, which means funding for research is low.

“Aside from telling a brilliant, moving and emotionally complex story, we really hope to draw attention to this subject to change this situation for the better.”