A grateful mum says an optician saved her teenage son’s life after spotting a rare condition which led to him being diagnosed with leukaemia.
Now Pamela Morley is urging parents to make sure they get their children’s eyes tested after a trip to an optician led to her son James’s diagnosis.
Fortunately, he is now in remission after becoming the first child in the UK to trial a new course of treatment.
The 13-year-old had always been hyperactive, full of energy and enthusiasm.
So when he started to become sleepy and short of breath at the start of 2012, Pamela (47) knew something was wrong.
She said: “James was a very lively lad and most of the time he was bouncing off walls. We were worried about him when he suddenly changed.
“We tried the doctor and then the dentist but they couldn’t find anything.”
After James complained of seeing pink instead of white, Pamela decided to call her regular opticians, Specsavers in the Idlewells Centre.
“As soon as I gave them the symptoms, they asked me to bring James straight in,” said Mrs Morley.
Optometrist Sunny Boyal carried out an eye examination and found that James had a large haemorrhage and oedema (bleed) on his left eye.
He immediately referred him to King’s Mill Hospital, where the consultant confirmed the bleed and sent James onto a paediatric ward.
There he was told he was suffering from a form of leukaemia and would need to be admitted to the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.
James underwent a number of tests which ultimately revealed that he was suffering from Philadelphia positive acute lymphoblastic leukaemia - a rare illness in children.
Pamela,of Tudor Street, Sutton, said: “It was a huge shock, and the start of a roller coaster ride. We pretty much spent the first year in the hospital with James undergoing treatment.”
James’ two-year treatment included a new drug trial, alongside regular chemotherapy.
“It’s pretty gruelling, but James remains bright and optimistic. He’s an inspiration to us.” added Pamela.
“Things are going well and he is classed as in remission. He could relapse but we are carrying on with his treatment. It will be five years before he can be classed as in full remission.
“Our experience really has opened my eyes to how important it is to make sure your children see an optician regularly – I didn’t realise the kinds of conditions that they can pick up.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that Sunny saved my son’s life.”
James and his family have been supported by the charity When You Wish Upon a Star, which aims to grant the wishes and special VIP treats to children suffering from life threatening illnesses.
For more information, or to make a donation visit http://www.whenyouwishuponastar.org.uk/donate-now.html.