Parents of terminally ill Chorley toddler plea to raise cash for doctor

Bella Morris aged 3 from Chorley is suffering from a rare life-limiting illness called Vanishing White Matter. The family are campaigning to raise money to fund a doctor who is researching treatments for the illness. Picture by Paul Heyes, Thursday May 26, 2016.

Bella Morris aged 3 from Chorley is suffering from a rare life-limiting illness called Vanishing White Matter. The family are campaigning to raise money to fund a doctor who is researching treatments for the illness. Picture by Paul Heyes, Thursday May 26, 2016.

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Peter Morris and Natalie Stevenson had a beautiful healthy toddler.

But when two-year-old Bella got a cold, their world fell apart.

Bella Morris aged 3 from Chorley is suffering from a rare life-limiting illness called Vanishing White Matter. The family are campaigning to raise money to fund a doctor who is researching treatments for the illness. Seen with mum Natalie Stevenson. Picture by Paul Heyes, Thursday May 26, 2016.

Bella Morris aged 3 from Chorley is suffering from a rare life-limiting illness called Vanishing White Matter. The family are campaigning to raise money to fund a doctor who is researching treatments for the illness. Seen with mum Natalie Stevenson. Picture by Paul Heyes, Thursday May 26, 2016.

The tot was diagnosed with a rare condition which means she could have just months to live.

Now the devastated parents are desperately fundraising to try and give their little girl a longer and happier life.

Bella Morris, aged 3, from Chorley, is believed to have Vanishing White Matter – an extremely rare genetic disease which causes sufferers to lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, see and hear, before eventually killing them.

During Bella’s six-month battle with the illness, her parents have been working towards funding a professor who is working on a treatment for the disease, which affects one in 40 million.

Bella Morris aged 3 from Chorley is suffering from a rare life-limiting illness called Vanishing White Matter. The family are campaigning to raise money to fund a doctor who is researching treatments for the illness. Seen with mum Natalie Stevenson. Picture by Paul Heyes, Thursday May 26, 2016.

Bella Morris aged 3 from Chorley is suffering from a rare life-limiting illness called Vanishing White Matter. The family are campaigning to raise money to fund a doctor who is researching treatments for the illness. Seen with mum Natalie Stevenson. Picture by Paul Heyes, Thursday May 26, 2016.

Dad Peter, 35, said at first, he and mum Natalie Stevenson, 31, of Crosse Hall Lane, were “an emotional wreck” when they found out Bella may only have a few months to live.

Peter said: “Our entire world just fell apart.

“We were in tears all the time and we would spend every moment with her.

“But we can’t carry on being upset all the time because she could have anything from a few months to ten years left. I accept that my daughter is going to die – so do I be miserable? Or do I enjoy every moment and make a difference to her life?

“I am not over it but we have got to be strong for her.”

Peter, who is a nurse at the Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said Bella was “perfectly fine” until she was two and a half.

But in November, the toddler came down with what seemed like a cold, which worsened.

Bella then became unsteady on her feet. Bella was then taken to have more tests, and an MRI scan showed “significant changes” to her white matter – the area of the brain which controls nerves.

“The doctors said it was life threatening and that Bella could only have a few months to live. Being told that, our world just fell apart there and then.

Dr Marjo S van der Knaap, based in Amsterdam, has confirmed it is Vanishing White Matter by looking at the MRI scan, although the family have not yet received an official diagnosis in the UK. This doctor is working to find a cure for the illness.

Dr Orna Elroy-Stein, based in Israel, is making faster progress towards a treatment to stop the disease from developing further.

However, Dr Elroy-Stein is not funded and the family are looking to help her reach a goal of £2.5 million to find the treatment.

Peter added: “We are trying to fund this doctor in the hope that something is going to happen in the next few years. I don’t know if all this is going to help Bella but I need to do this to stop it happening to other families too.”

Peter said they are trying to do this whilst Bella can still talk and interact with people.

“She can’t walk anymore and has to have splints and be held up by us.”

For more information, or to donate, visit www.savingbellamorris.com.