Toddler Twins Forced Apart by Cystic Fibrosis

two heartsIf you have more than one child, you know how it goes when one of them gets sick -- you do what you can to keep them apart and prevent germs from spreading, but inevitably whatever bug it is usually finds each of your children. For Steve and Zoe Elliot, however, the stakes of that whole germ avoidance game are much higher as their 2-year-old twins both have cystic fibrosis.

Because colds and other respiratory infections can prove fatal in people with the inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system, it's very important that they're not exposed to people who are sick -- which, for the twins, often means each other. So their parents have to take drastic measures to keep them separated for much of their lives, which is heartbreaking, but necessary.

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Zoe explained to the Nottingham Post:

In an ideal world, the twins wouldn't be in the same house because of cross contamination. People with cystic fibrosis aren’t allowed to mix, so we have to be really careful. When one has an infection, they can’t kiss each other or share anything that they are using or eating from.

It's painstaking and time consuming, but it's what the family has to do. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, more than 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide) are affected, and all of them have plenty of challenges, even if they don't have twins.

I have several cousins with cystic fibrosis, and one died from the disease. I've seen the hours of daily treatment it requires, the numerous hospitalizations it causes, and the enormous toll it takes on the family's life. It's a hard life, and my sympathy goes out to this family -- and all of the others facing this disease -- with a huge dose of admiration for the strength they have to find to live with it.

The twins are participating in a trial study in the U.K. to help better find treatments for complications caused by the disease. Hopefully they will. Many advancements in treatments have come over the years, but as of yet, there's no cure.

I often find myself complaining about how difficult parenting is, how tired I am, and other trivial things, but stories like this make me realize just how much harder it could be.

Do you know anyone who suffers from cystic fibrosis?


Image via PV KS/Flickr

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