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Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Unparalleled Love and Devotion of a Twin to Her Sister Whose Arms and Legs Were Amputated

How far are you willing to go in your love, commitment and devotion to that special person in your life? The story of this twin sisters will inspire you. Ellie and Sophie Challis are 10 year old twin sisters. While Sophie is a normal growing child, her twin sister Ellie had her arms and legs amputated at 16 months old after she contracted a deadly strain of meningitis. 

But 9 years on, not only has the courage of this happy, funny little girl humbled her parents, the strength and devotion shown by her twin sister Sophie has left them in awe. For it’s thanks to Sophie's help and encouragement that Ellie can now live a full and normal life, having been taught how to climb trees, swim and even play football by her sister. ‘From the moment Ellie came home from hospital, Sophie wouldn't leave her side, even though she was only a baby herself. It has been like that ever since,’ says Lisa, their 40 year old mum. ‘It has been a wonderful thing to watch unfold.’

Sophie most times accompanies her sister on the 200-mile round trip every 6 weeks to get her prosthetic legs replaced. She cheers on Ellie whenever she tries anything new from dressing herself and learning to write, to swimming and running a race.Sophie was only 18 months when Ellie came home but she seemed to take on a mothering role, she just seemed to know what to do,’ says Lisa. ‘I remember coming into the room and seeing Sophie holding Ellie’s bottle to her mouth as she couldn't do it herself.

‘If I gave Sophie a bowl of chocolate buttons, she wouldn't eat any herself until she’d made sure Ellie had some. She wouldn't leave Ellie’s side.’She was also there to help Ellie get used to wearing her new legs. ‘It took months for her to build up her confidence, but once she got used to them she loved them. Now she chooses between normal legs and running blades, which she uses if she wants to move faster.’

When the twins started school, 4-year-old Sophie was so dedicated to helping her twin that their teachers warned their parents that Sophie’s education was suffering. ‘She spent more of her time in class looking out for Ellie than doing any work,’ Lisa recalls. ‘As they got older, the school said they needed to go into separate classes to make sure Sophie made her own friends. But even after they’d been separated, Sophie sometimes asked the teacher to take her to see that Ellie was OK.’

Thanks to Sophie’s determination, Ellie has scaled any obstacles in her way. She is now so comfortable in her prosthetic limbs that she can run, climb stairs and even trees. And although she has prosthetic arms with moveable hands, she’s so adept with her stumps that she prefers not to use the prosthetics.

Lisa says: ‘She says they get in her way, and we can’t argue with her; she can write, use an iPad, peel an orange, go on a swing, and she has just learnt how to tie a shoelace with a bow. She creates two loops using each stump, looping them over and tightening them with her mouth. Ellie uses both stumps to hold a pen and a toothbrush, and switches between her arms for other tasks. At dinner, she uses both arms to hold a knife and cut up her food, then takes up her fork to eat it."

She is also strikingly without self-pity. ‘She’s never once asked, “Why me?”says Lisa. ‘She just seems to have accepted what happened.’ Her twin is also still incredibly protective of her sister ‘If Sophie thinks people are staring at Ellie, she’ll stand right in front of her so they can’t see her, or she’ll tell her other siblings to help. She gets quite upset about it.’ Yet in all of this Ellie's courage with determination and Sophie's devotion to her sister continues to inspire her family.

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