Utah Parents Bury 3 Kids, Lost to Same Disease, on Same Day

Juvenile Batten disease is a cruel disorder, as the Chappells have learned
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2017 8:15 AM CDT
Updated Sep 30, 2017 5:11 PM CDT
Genetic Disease Stole 3 of Utah Couple's Kids in 3 Days
Coffins are shown in this stock photo.   (Getty Images)

As far as diseases go, Juvenile Batten disease is a particularly cruel one: Vision issues and seizures typically emerge before a child is 10; blindness, dementia, and an inability to move can follow; death often comes within a decade. Crueler still, while the disorder is highly rare it's also genetic, and as the Washington Post reports, it's "not unusual" for the disease to affect more than one child in a family (here are two examples). In the case of Les and Celeste Chappell, four of their 10 children had the diagnosis, and three have now died—all in July, over the course of three days, in the family's home in Springville, Utah. As the Post reports, Elizabeth, 19, and James, 15—who had had the toughest time—were being tube-fed.

When the time came for Les and Celeste to do the same for Christopher, 20, they reflected on the experience of their other two children and decided not to—and they felt that choice should extend to Elizabeth and James. So on July 13, the feeding tubes were removed, medication was given to ease any pain, and the family begin to pray over a process they were warned could take weeks. Instead, Elizabeth died the next day, followed by James the next and Christopher the next. The three shared an obituary and an eternal resting place: The parents purchased three burial plots, each designed to hold two coffins. Les and Celeste will one day share one. Christopher and Elizabeth now share another. In the third, James rests, with a space above that brother Samuel, 10, will one day occupy. Read the full story at the Post. (Read more Juvenile Batten disease stories.)

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