Britt Ekland has spoken candidly about her young grandson Lucas' battle with brain disorder adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).
The three-year-old, who is the son of Nicholai – Britt's child with her ex, record producer Lou Adler – was diagnosed with the rare condition which shows few symptoms, but can lead to sight loss, inability to walk and move, and ultimately premature death.
"The insidious thing about this illness is that your child is just like any other until symptoms occur," she told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper. "Lucas hit all his milestones. You'd never guess in a million years that anything was wrong with him because there are no visible clues."
However, routine screening tests revealed the condition at a young age – although it was not until last year that she was told the devastating news.
"I was staying with Nicholai and Alison in the June and one night, after the children had gone to bed, they said: 'Mum, we need to speak to you.' Lucas was two; an extraordinarily happy little boy," "The Man with the Golden Gun" actress recalled.
"It's only when I look back now that I wonder if Alison was a bit more protective of him than she was of Cash. We're a demonstrative family, but she seemed to kiss and hug Lucas more than ever."
"And on that evening when she told me the news I could see she'd been crying. I didn't know what to think. My heart sank," she shared, adding, "They'd known for two years before they told me and I can understand why they wanted to be certain of all their facts first. I think they also wanted me to have a happy relationship with Lucas without being too fearful."
But Britt insisted the outlook is promising for the tot, who has regular six-monthly MRI scans, and blood tests every three months, which can detect the brain lesions that presage the onset of ALD. Before symptoms even start, a bone marrow transplant is very likely to halt it in its tracks.
"Lucas will be able to have a perfect life. He can become a doctor, a lawyer, a plumber, a motorcycle racer. Once he's had the stem cell transplant he can do anything he wants. And that's all because he had that vital screening at birth."