Meet Caitlin & Bethany – 13-year-old twins from the Perth Hills, who are both living with an irreversible, genetic vision impairment.
They were born 5 weeks premature, with twin-to-twin transfusion blood disorder and severe squints. Although they had corrective surgery at 17 months-old and doctors expected that by the age of 9-10 years old, they would be fine, sadly, this was not to be so.
Bethany was the first to start losing her vision at 8 years-old, but it has remained stable – for now. Caitlin had a massive, sudden loss of vision over a period of 6 months – and has continued to decline.
At 10 years-old, she was navigating the world with a white cane. Last Christmas, she lost more of her peripheral vision and now only has 5% of vision left. This means she is 95% blind.
Their sight will continue to deteriorate and both girls know that at some point, they will completely lose their vision. Forever.
Can you imagine how your life would be, waking up each day, wondering if today is your last day of being able to see the world?
It’s the not-knowing when it’s going to happen, is the hardest for both girls to deal with. Caitlin has even said to her mum,
“I wish it would just be over … that I would just be completely blind”.
But their lives have been changed for the better, since Companion Dog, Ellie joined their family. Although Ellie cannot stop the inevitable happening, she has transformed the life of both girls – and their parents, Racquelle and Lance.
Her bond with the girls is growing ever stronger and she is able to pick up on who needs company and affection the most. She takes away some of the stress of what the future holds for the family.
Ellie began her life-changing career when she was matched to Caitlin and Bethany and the family now has a new catchphrase:
Ellie brings happy to our life!
Racquelle wants Caitlin & Bethany to experience as much as they can, while they still have some vision.
Each remarkable puppy at Guide Dogs WA requires training and matching to the right person or family, whether they are destined to become a Guide Dog, Autism Assistance Dog or a Therapy Dog. It can take up to two years and more than $48 a day to train a dog like Ellie.
Guide Dogs WA relies on the support of the community to fund our Guide Dog training program and help transform the lives of West Australians living with a disability. Currently there are 36 puppies at our Perth training centre, each at different stages of training, who will all go on to change someone’s life.
Please consider making a difference to another Western Australian, by making a donation today. Remember, all donations above $2 are tax deductible.