TODDLER Grace Whiting has smiled for the very first time – just in time for her third birthday.
Grace, who turned three yesterday, will never walk, talk, go to school or play with her friends as she suffers from a devastating ultra-rare terminal condition called pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency.
However blind and deaf Grace, whose condition means her vital organs will eventually shut down, has cracked a smile for mother Layna Harding and father Andy Whiting for the first time.
Ms Harding, 26, who lives with 28-year-old electrician Mr Whiting and their five-year-old son Sean, told how the heartbroken parents had been warned Grace would not live to see her first birthday.
She said: “Grace has defied doctors in her short life. They told us she wouldn’t live to see Christmas, but she made it home for Christmas Day.
“Then they said she wouldn’t live until her first birthday, but she’s now celebrating her third.
“And now she’s smiled for the first time, we’re absolutely overjoyed. It was the most beautiful sight, the most special, precious moment we could have asked for.”
Ms Harding, from Bradford, has described how her pregnancy was normal, but when Grace was just seven hours old, doctors became concerned about how limp she was.
At just three-days-old, Grace had a lumber puncture and MRI scan, and by five days old she was sent to hospital in Manchester for a muscle biopsy.
“They expected her to die,” said Ms Harding. “But the day before Christmas I asked them if I could go home so Grace could spend what we thought would be her first and last Christmas with her big brother and dad. Thankfully they said yes.
“But on Boxing Day, a nurse came round to check on her and was surprised how well she was doing, so they told us we could keep her at home.”
A new high-fat low-carbohydrate and protein diet has improved Grace’s senses and she finally smiled for the first time.