Unique illness mystifies toddler's doctors

The everyday functions of eating and drinking make can make one local youngster seriously ill.

Friday, 11th November 2016, 8:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:01 pm
Liam Denner

Liam Denner is believed to be the only person in the world with a rare combination of conditions that make his life very difficult.

The two-year-old’s body attacks itself if he eats or drinks anything, causing him to vomit and excrete blood.

His condition is so rare that doctors cannot give a specific diagnosis, but they think there may not be anyone else on the planet with this particular mixture of symptoms.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

And it means no-one really knows what the future holds for brave Liam, with doctors just trying to tackle these symptoms as best they can for now.

One of his biggest problems is that he does not have a properly functioning immune system and so is prone to pick up infections.

His mum Zoey Horrocks, of Maple Avenue, Atherton, said: “It’s scary. Every time he gets an infection or gets admitted into hospital, I don’t know whether I will be coming home with him.”

Liam was born prematurely and was rushed into intensive care as he was struggling to breathe.

His breathing improved, but he could not tolerate feeds and it was not clear why.

He spent the first 18 months of his life in hospital and has had to return regularly ever since.

Miss Horrocks said: “They have done so many tests on him.

“They think he’s one of a kind and he’s the only person with this condition.

“The things they have seen inside, they have never seen before.

“He can’t eat or drink anything, he can’t even tolerate water.

“He is fed intravenously into his heart through a central line.

“He has battled so many infections. Having the line in his heart means if bugs grow, he gets quite poorly.

“He doesn’t have an immune system and picks up so many bugs.”

Miss Horrocks and Liam have travelled to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital to meet specialists, including one from Amsterdam, but they have not been able to come up with a conclusive diagnosis.

For now, he has to rely on intravenous feeding, also known as total parenteral nutrition (TPN), but that itself can cause liver failure.

Miss Horrocks, 25, said: “It’s worrying. At the last appointment we had at Great Ormond Street, they told us there is nothing they can do to help him.

“We have to just see how he goes on TPN.

“It’s fine, but can change overnight.

“His liver could change overnight and I would be stuck and probably lose him. It’s hard.

“I have two other children as well so trying to look after all of them is hard work.”

Miss Horrocks wants to improve life for Liam, so he can enjoy time with his brother McKenzie, eight, and sister Scarlett, four.

She has launched an online fund-raising appeal and is seeking to raise £2,000.

She hopes to use the money to transform her garden, by getting a playhouse and climbing frame, so Liam can play there with his siblings, as he loves being outside but tires easily.

Miss Horrocks said: “It would mean everything, not just for Liam but for his brother and sister as well.

“I want it to be a place for them to make memories together.

“I don’t know how long we have him for.

“I want him to have a quality of life.

“Even when he’s poorly, he will be able to play out there.”

Miss Horrocks also wants to learn how to drive, to make it easier to take Liam to appointments at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

To make a donation to Miss Horrocks’ appeal, go to www.gofundme.com/making-memories-with-liam-2vb4gsrw