A Burnley baby is battling a rare blood disease that affects only 50 children in the UK every year.
Little Max Macmillan was just five months old when he was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, a cancer-like condition that affects the immune system. In his short life Max has spent months being treated with chemotherapy at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital where he has won the hearts of doctors and nurses for always having a smile on his face, despite what he is going through.
Max’s mum, Mikayla Macmillan, said: “The nurses come to see Max because he is always smiling and happy, it doesn’t matter what they throw at him, he just gets on with it.’’
Doctors took several months to diagnose Max with the disease as so little is known about it.
His skin broke out in angry red blisters and rashes and Mikayla was told he had a skin condtion that would clear up within 12 to 18 months.
Mikayla (26) added: “I kept taking Max back to the doctors because I knew something was wrong. I felt guilty because he looked like he was being neglected because his skin was such a mess.
“He kept getting sore in all his skin creases but then there was a waxy discharge from his ears and I knew there was something seriously wrong.’’
The diagnosis left Mikayla and her partner, Andrew Shaw, who is 31, devastated.
Mikayla added: “I am still in shock now. It turned our lives upside down as I had a normal healthy pregnancy and a good birth.
“I had never heard of this disease and no-one knows what causes it. Research for treatment is still carrying on.’’
Max has chemotherapy through a port that was inserted into his chest and also orally and he has undergone several blood transfusions. He is developing well but slowly and has just started to sit up on his own. Mikayla spends weeks at a time at the hospital and Andrew goes over in the evening after finishing work as a mechanic.
Mikayla paid tribute to the MacMillan Cancer Support charity for their help through the ordeal. And as a thankyou, HAPPA in Burnley, where Mikayla’s mum, Tracey Macmillan works as a groom, is holding a grand coffee morning there today (Friday) to raise funds.
Mikayla said: “I dont know how I would have coped without the help of the charity. I have my own allocated nurse who is available to me at all times. She has been absolutely wonderful.’’
The couple were looking forward to bringing their son home in Myrtle Avenue this week to spend time with big sister Olivia (five) who dotes on Max.
Mikayla said: “The prognosis for the disease is good but doctors cannot really say for definite what will happen in the future.’’