What is wrong with Oliver Battersby in Coronation Street? Everything you need to know about mitochondrial disease

Oliver's doctor tells Steve and Leanne next week that Oliver seems to have been left with brain damage as a result of his recent seizures

Steve and Leanne's son has been diagnosed with a devastating illness...

Coronation Street's Steve McDonald and Leanne Battersby are facing every parent's worst nightmare as their son Oliver Battersby is diagnosed with rare illness, mitochondrial disease.

Soap fans have watched Oliver's health deteriorate over recent months, with him initially losing energy and sleeping a lot.

But more recently the three-year-old as been suffering terrifying seizures, leaving doctors fighting to work out what is wrong with him.

The news that their son has got mitochondrial disease will leave Leanne and Steve's world shattered, but what exactly is the illness?

And what is the prognosis for little Oliver?

What is mitochondrial disease?

Coronation Street spoilers: Leanne Battersby calls the paramedics for Oliver

Steve and Leanne have been to hell and back in recent months (Picture: ITV)

Mitochondrial disease is a complex genetic condition that sufferers are born with, however the symptoms might not present themselves until later in life.

Mitochondria are found in nearly every cell in the body, and are responsible for producing the energy we need day-to-day.

The NHS compares these cells to power stations, making all the energy we need to function.

However, if our cells don't produce enough energy then parts of the body can't function.

A bit like in power stations, if there isn't enough energy there will be blackouts in parts of the country.

The parts of the body that are most affected are those that have the highest demands on the body, for example brain, muscles, liver, heart and kidneys.

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What are the symptoms of mitochondrial disease?

Coronation Street Oliver ITV

Oliver has been suffering from tiredness and seizures (Picture: ITV)

Everyone with mitochondrial disease will show symptoms in different ways, depending on which mitochondria are working and not working within each cell.

Mitochondrial disease is considered a rare disease, and everyone showing slightly different symptoms makes it tricky to diagnose.

Oliver's tiredness, seizures and slower development in certain areas are all symptoms of this illness.

Other symptoms can include loss of vision and hearing, poor growth and breathing problems.

Can mitochondrial disease be treated?

Coronation Street spoilers: Leanne Battersby and Nick argue over Oliver

Leanne and Nick are devastated when they receive confirmation that Oliver has got mitochondrial disease (Picture: ITV)

Unfortunately there is currently no cure for mitochondrial disease at the moment.

Treatment for the illness is more focused on relieving symptoms that can develop, for example, treating seizures with medication.

Doctors can also use vitamins to help with energy levels and some people find a special diet can help relieve some symptoms.

Is Oliver Battersby going to die from mitochondrial disease?

Oliver is rushed to hospital

Sadly the prognosis for Oliver isn't good (Picture: ITV)

Sadly mitochondrial disease is progressive, meaning it will only get worse over time.

The prognosis all depends on the individual, but the illness is sadly life-limiting and a substantial number of children with mitochondrial disease do not reach adulthood.

Coronation Street has been working closely with The Lily Foundation, a charity set up by mum Liz Curtis in 2007 in memory of her daughter, Lily, who died from the illness at just eight months old.

Coronation Street will temporarily air a reduced schedule of three episodes a week. Watch on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7.30pm on ITV. 

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and whattowatch.com writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.