THE parents of identical twin baby girls who battled for life after being born two months prematurely have told how their world fell apart when an aggressive childhood cancer claimed both sisters’ lives.
Clare and Darren Boitelle, of Morley, have pledged to raise cash for cancer charities and awareness of infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in memory of their “inspirational” daughters Neve and Belle.
The devastated couple discovered on the same day in May 2013 that both girls – who were then aged five-months-old – were suffering from the blood cancer.
Neve weighed 3lb and Belle 2lb 12oz when they were born two months early at St Leeds General Infirmary on November 10 2012.
Mr and Mrs Boitelle were overjoyed when their daughters were finally allowed home after spending two months in the special care baby unit at St James’s Hospital.
The girls had been home for just over three months when Neve started refusing feeds, appeared pale and developed two black eyes and bruising on her body.
Neve was taken to Leeds General Infirmary on May 5 2013 when the family were told she was suffering from infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Mr and Mrs Boitelle asked doctors to examine Belle as she was displaying similar symptoms. Belle was diagnosed as suffering from the same cancer that day.
Neve underwent 15 days of intensive chemotherapy treatment before losing her fight for life at just six-months-old on May 20 2013. Belle spent her first and second birthdays at Leeds General Infirmary as she continued to fight the cancer.
Tragically, Belle succumbed to the illness on March 25 this year when she died in her parents’ arms in intensive care at LGI aged two-years-and-four-months. Belle was taken to Martin House Children’s Hospice to allow her parents to spend time with her before a funeral was arranged.
Mrs Boitelle said: “Our hearts and souls are forever broken. This has been a heart wrenching journey with our beautiful, brave princesses, taken away from us so soon. Our lives won’t go back to the way they were before. We have lost both our girls, it’s devastating.”
Mrs Boitelle had to leave her job as a marketing manager after the girls were diagnosed and Mr Boitelle had to leave his hairdressing job as the couple became full-time carers in hospital while looking after son Hiro, aged seven. The couple have raised around £3,000 and are appealing for more donations for childhood cancer charity Candlelighters, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Martin House Children’s Hospice, and CLIC Sargent. Go to www.gofundme.com/k0y700 and www.justgiving.com/neve-belle