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Sharp-eyed viewer diagnoses her grandson with rare nerve condition after watching documentaryDoctors baffled by Declan Hayton's symptoms Grandmother spots child displaying same traits on TVTwo-year-old finally diagnosed with Moebius Syndrome
A grandmother was able to diagnose a toddler's one-in-a-million illness – which had left doctors baffled for years – after spotting the symptoms on television.
Carol Hayton, 44, was watching a BBC Three documentary series Underage and Pregnant when she saw a child demonstrating the same symptoms as her two-year-old grandson Declan.
The youngster was suffering from Moebius Syndrome, an extremely rare congenital neurological disorder characterised by facial paralysis and the inability to move the eyes from side to side.
Relief: Michelle Purcell and Anthony Hayton pictured with their son Declan
She quickly visited Declan's parents, who live next door, and told them about her discovery.
As a result,Michelle Purcell and Anthony Hayton, both
23, from Barrow, Cumbria, secured an appointment with a geneticist – a biologist who studies genetics, – at a
hospital in Lancaster last November, who confirmed the prognosis.
Carol said: 'There had been a
trailer for the programme and I said to my husband that the little boy looked like Declan.
'We sat down to watch it and he looked the absolute spit. All children with Moebius Syndrome look the same.
'Michelle and Anthony had been to I
don’t know how many appointments. I know it’s rare but the doctors
should know something about it.'
Two-year-old Declan has been diagnosed with Moebius syndrome
Declan was admitted to Furness
General Hospital’s special care baby unit shortly after he was born and
has been plagued with medical issues ever since.
He suffers from epilepsy,
club foot, muscle-restricting condition hypertonia and facial paralysis, and spent months visiting specialists at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
His parents Michelle Purcell and
Anthony Hayton, both 23, travelled back and forth to
appointments while doctors struggled to get to the bottom of his
Carol Hayton (pictured) spotted Declan's symptoms on television
They also had to balance his round-the-clock care while
looking after their three other children, Roxy, four, Logan, two and
Mr Hayton said: 'For the last two years we have been so worried, not
knowing what’s wrong with him, what equipment he needs, whether he will
'His condition is so rare no one wants to
'I’ve been to social services, the hospital, patient liason
services, everywhere asking them for some help.
'Everything we know about
his condition we have taught ourselves through the internet and our
There are just 124 known cases of Moebius Syndrome in the UK and most people with the condition are born with complete facial paralysis and cannot close their eyes or form facial expressions.
Some symptoms can be treated with the right therapy and surgery.
Declan requires a special feeding tube to maintain sufficient nutrition and it is unclear how the condition will develop.
Miss Purcell said: 'As a mother, you’re
constantly worrying whether you’re doing the right thing. We just want
someone to tell us how best to care for him.'
The family are now appealing for support and at-home equipment from from community health workers.
A spokesperson for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Barrow’s community health services, said: 'Getting it right for this patient is our priority and we are working with the family to ensure appropriate community care is provided.'
The condition is named after Paul Julius Mbius, a German neurologist who first described the syndrome in 1888.