A couple’s delight at the birth of identical twin brothers turned to horror when they were both diagnosed with cancer.
First-time mother Nicole Duhaney, 20, gave birth to Emre and Elijah just before
The adorable tots were both diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, and are now living full-time at Leeds General Infirmary as doctors begin a programme of chemotherapy treatment.
Ms Duhaney said: ‘I was classed as a high-risk pregnancy but everything went well and I had a really great pregnancy though I was in Calderdale Royal Hospital for 11 days after they were born.
‘I was just looking forward to being a mum, going shopping for baby clothes. I was so excited I couldn’t wait to dress them in the same clothes and show them off to my friends.’
Emre and Elijah, pictured, have been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia and are now living full-time at Leeds General Infirmary as doctors begin a programme of chemotherapy treatment
First-time mother Nicole Duhaney, 20, said she and her partner Nile Liburd had concerns about their health within just three weeks
Mr Liburd, pictured with Ms Duhaney, said: ‘Our babies have life-threatening conditions. We have no other option than to remain positive and try to get through it’
But within three weeks the Ms Duhaney and her partner Nile Liburd’s joy had turned to concern when Elijah, the younger boy by 44 minutes, began to develop a strange lump on his right check.
Both boys also started with colds that mysteriously never seemed to disappear.
Their GP did his best to reassure her but when the boys both started getting tummy aches, Mr Liburd in particular began to become concerned.
Their fears grew, especially when the spot on Elijah’s cheek grew bigger and Emre developed one too.
Blood tests were carried out at Calderdale at the end of February but these failed to reveal anything and they were referred to a dermatologist in Leeds.
It was thought the boys might be suffering from fat necrosis – where the body struggles to break down fat particles.
Ms Duhaney was glad that at long last they appeared to have an answer and her fears began to subside.
However, on 22 April, the vomiting problems became more acute and Nicole was unable to put Emre down without him crying.
She said: ‘He was so clingy. I couldn’t put him down without him crying. I had to get my mum to hold him while I went to the toilet.’
Medics initially believed the boys might be suffering from fat necrosis – where the body struggles to break down fat particles
Pictured: Mr Liburd holding his boys, Emre and Elijah, in the hospital
Even more concerning, his breathing became heavier and eventually the panicked mum phoned 101 for advice.
The operator heard his breathing on the phone, realised the severity of his condition and ordered an emergency ambulance.
Ms Duhaney said: ‘He was given an oxygen mask. I was terrified, I was a mess. My babies!’
Medics at Calderdale gave him a chest x-ray and blood test and he was diagnosed with Bronchiolitis, an infection which causes the smallest airways in the lungs, the bronchioles, to become infected and inflamed.
Sadly Elijah’s health took a turn for the worse, and he was also admitted to Calderdale.
His health deteriorated to such an extent he was placed in an induced coma and transferred to the intensive care unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital on 29 April.
Shortly afterwards, Emre was also transferred to Leeds.
Ms Duhaney said: ‘Elijah was getting really tired breathing, even with the support of the breathing machine. I couldn’t bear to look at him.’
The next day she said she knew there was something seriously wrong because the doctors would only talk to her when her partner arrived.
She added: ‘We were told that Elijah’s blood tests revealed he might have leukaemia. It didn’t feel real.
‘You always hear about these things but I never dreamt it would happen to me.
‘And when one of the consultants said she was worried about Emre’s blood too and he began displaying the same symptoms, I was just a mess.
‘It was confirmed they both had acute myeloid leukaemia. Knowing that they had cancer, our world fell apart.
‘The only good news was that although the doctors said the condition was very hard to treat in babies it was not impossible.
‘That’s why we are in a good mood today because the chemotherapy is working and the lumps are starting to disappear.
‘But the hard part is going to be in a couple of weeks’ time when its side-effects kick in.
‘I cried a happy tear on Monday because it’s been eight days since we have seen Elijah smiling. I cried a “happy tear” because I have not seen him giggling for so long.
‘And Tuesday was great because that’s how I remember them, giggling and smiling. When they are happy we’re happy, they are steering our emotions.
‘I have broken down but Nile said we can’t afford that luxury.’
A GoFundMe site has been set up to raise money for the couple to help them in their plight with more than £1,500 raised in just five days
Ms Duhaney added: ‘I can’t lie, I’m scared and I would switch places with them in a heartbeat but so far they are being so strong. I am just so proud of them. I can’t let my fear be stronger than my hope’
Mr Liburd, 26, said: ‘Our babies have life-threatening conditions. We have no other option than to remain positive and try to get through it.’
She said: ‘They are going to be in there for some time and they might have to go in back into intensive care. That’s the worst part, I can’t bear to be in that room.
‘I must say we have had excellent treatment at Leeds and whatever the outcome the medics are doing everything they can.
‘Our consultant, Danielle Ingham, has been brilliant. I don’t know what we would have done without her. She has been on the ball all the time.’
The couple, who both have demanding jobs, face a minimum of a further six weeks staying at the hospital and say they are grateful to a national organisation which helps families stay close to their loved ones at difficult times.
The pair, who both went to Huddersfield New College, say they are grateful too to family and friends who have helped.
She added: ‘All I can say is thank you. The donations that have been raised will help us as a family on the hopeful road to recovery.
‘But most importantly I want to say a big thank you to the people that have taken the time out to send words of comfort and support because that’s what has helped us get through this the most.
‘When I first heard the doctor tell me both my babies had cancer I was broken. I couldn’t see an outcome and I’d given up before the battle had even begun.
‘What I can say is everyone has given me hope that maybe we can pull through this and that means so much I can’t begin to describe it.
‘I can’t lie, I’m scared and I would switch places with them in a heartbeat but so far they are being so strong. I am just so proud of them.
‘I can’t let my fear be stronger than my hope.’