These adorable twins are Leyla and Luca. They both celebrated their 2nd birthday on 4th May this year which should’ve been a milestone like any other toddler’s first 24 months of life. Leyla and Luca live with their Mummy Jen and Daddy Capan in Turkey, that was until things recently took a turn in their journey only last week. This is their heart-breaking story and we are reaching out to you for help in any way that you can give it.
You will notice that despite being twins, Leyla is smaller than Luca and this is because she sadly has leukaemia. Leyla spent most of the first year of her life in hospital in Turkey. At just 11 weeks old, she was unexpectedly taken poorly and within hours, the family were living their worst nightmare, one which no child or parent should have to go through. She was immediately taken to intensive care and spent weeks fighting for her life and this is where she was very quickly diagnosed with Leukaemia. The words that no parent wants or needs to hear had become their reality.
During this time, Leyla fought her way as hard as she could and she is such a beautiful, adorable and resilient toddler. She has not only had to contend with feeling extremely poorly through chemotherapy treatment but has also had covid, cellulitis and sepsis along the way. To complicate things even further for the family, covid restrictions prevented Leyla and her mummy having contact with the outside world while they were in the Turkish hospital and neither of them saw each other for 8 months. Luca was separated from his sister and his mummy, Leyla was separated from her brother and her daddy and Jen and Capan were separated as husband and wife. This not only had an impact on Leyla and Jen but also a huge impact on Capan and Luca. The first years of a toddler’s life are essential in development and while the hospital saved Leyla’s life for which the family will of course be forever grateful, they are not equipped for a child’s development in the same way that our children’s hospitals are in the UK.
Eventually, Leyla was discharged from hospital on the grounds that Jen and Capan managed her array of medication at home, including oral chemotherapy and for a good few months, Leyla remained stable. They were back together as a family and they were continuing the best they could under the circumstances. Capan has a business that he has to run to ensure that the families financial needs are met and Jen is a stay at home mummy looking after their precious babies, but it worked for them and things were looking brighter, that was until recently when the family’s world was turned upside down once again when the Turkish doctors informed Jen and Capan that Leyla had relapsed. Can you imagine as a parent hearing this once, let alone twice?
After discussion with professors and medical professionals, the parents were informed just 10 days ago that Leyla’s best chance of recovery would not be in Turkey and they advised that the family return to the UK to seek urgent medical attention. While the parents are grateful for everything that the Turkish medical teams have done for Leyla, the access to the things that Leyla requires are not equal to what they are in the UK. Jen, Leyla and Luca are dual nationality , it is only Capan that is of Turkish nationality. So, like any parent, they made the best choice for their children and within 24 hours, Jen, the twins and their Nana were on a flight back to the UK and arrived on Wednesday 10th May. This meant that once again, the family were separated. Capan has had to temporarily remain in Turkey due to not having a visa to stay in the UK and doesn’t know how long he has to wait to see his wife and precious babies again.
On Thursday 11th May, just 24 hours after arriving in the UK, Leyla was admitted to a specialist bone marrow hospital where tests were carried out. On Friday, the professionals were happy that Leyla could be temporarily discharged over the weekend until the medical team had met to discuss her case. During this time, Leyla and Luca had a trip out to the local soft play area as her mummy had no idea when the next time would be that she would get to just be a 2 year old. The twins thoroughly enjoyed themselves, as in Turkey they don’t have as much access to these kinds of activities which are essential for their physical, social and emotional wellbeing.
On Tuesday 17 May, after the medical team came together to review Leyla’s case, Jen received a phone call from the hospital. This phone call was about to change the family’s life once again. The UK medical professionals have confirmed that Leyla’s condition is sadly and unfortunately worse than the Turkish medical team predicted. Her spinal and brain fluid is now full of Leukaemia and the emphasis on the urgency of Leyla’s treatment has dramatically increased.
Today on 18 May, Leyla is having surgery to remove her old port and have a new Hickman line put in. This is a central venous catheter used for the administration of chemotherapy and other essential medication.
Naturally, the family’s lives have been shattered into thousands of pieces once again. Right now, it’s like a mirror shattering onto the floor and having to pick up the pieces to make it whole again. Where do you even start when all you want is your baby back and your head is so full of questions and unknown answers?
This is where our go fund me comes into play. Due to having no home in the UK, Luca is having to stay with Nana while Jen and Leyla remain in the hospital. The twins have never visited the UK before so have nothing in this country. Everything they’ve ever had and known is in Turkey. The decision to fly back so urgently meant that Jen’s case was pretty much full of all of Leyla’s medication in case they were not able to receive the care that Leyla desperately needed in the UK. This meant that Jen and the twins have next to nothing but the clothes on their back they were wearing. Due to the urgent nature the family now find themselves in, Capan now needs to fly and remain in the UK to be by his family’s side. However, this now means a loss of their only income which is the only thing that has kept them financially afloat in Turkey. Capan’s return may involve legal costs which right now, which they cannot meet themselves.
The twins Nana cannot financially support due to currently not being able to work while she is taking care of Luca and trying to be by Jen and Leyla’s side as much as possible which involves taxi return journeys every day. However, at some point, she is going to need to return to work to keep her own finances afloat.
The twins need their basic needs met with clothes, toys and general income for living costs until the family can get back on their feet again. Luca’s little life has also been turned upside down and the complexity of everything means he has no understanding at his age of what impact this is having on not just everyone but his own needs too. Things need to remain as ‘normal’ as possible for Luca so that his social, emotional and physical needs are met in order for him to thrive as a two year old. This involves financial costs too.
We also don’t know at this point whether Leyla will need more specialist treatment or care that could be better met in another country, so we need to prepare for every eventuality.
This is a worst case scenario for every parent and right now this family are living it. We want to do all we can to ensure that the financial burden is removed so they can focus and concentrate on the one thing that is at the centre of all of this and that is 2 year old Leyla who is fighting for her life.
The family have not asked us to do this. They are extremely proud people and would not ask themselves, hence why we have taken over this side of things so they don’t have to. Their time and their energy needs to be with Leyla and Luca right now. Some of us will be aware of the financial strain that facing adversity brings but thankfully and hopefully only a small minority of us have ever had to deal with a critically ill child and I hope we never do.
Anything you can give right now is going to be so appreciated by the family and much needed. We understand times are difficult for many of us right now and we don’t want to see anyone falling on hard times themselves by financially contributing to this go fund. So, please if you can’t afford it, a simple share of this Go Fund would be so appreciated. If you can afford to donate, thank you – you are playing your part in helping to heal a broken family right now.
We will of course update you along the way on Leyla’s and the family’s situation but for now, thank you for helping to change this family’s life.