'Butterfly' Churchill brothers die of infections
Two young brothers with a rare skin condition have died within days of each other, their family has said.
Harry and Cody Churchill from Poole, aged three and 21 months, both had epidermolysis bullosa (EB) and developed infections.
In January the Churchill family had taken part in a BBC Inside Out programme to raise awareness of EB.
Younger patients are sometimes called "butterfly children" because their skin is fragile like a butterfly's wings.
Harry died at Julia's House hospice in Corfe Mullen on Wednesday and Cody died on Friday in hospital in Poole.'Strong bond'
In a Facebook post, parents Chris and Steph Churchill said: "Losing two children in two days is anyone's worse nightmare. The only comfort we have is knowing they are reunited as one.
"Cody couldn't live without Harry - their bond was far too strong."
What is epidermolysis bullosa (EB)
- A rare genetic condition in which the skin and internal body linings blister at the slightest knock or rub, causing painful, open wounds.
- EB is likely to affect 1 in 17,000 live births and it is estimated there are currently 5,000 people with the condition in the UK.
- The condition has a number of distinct forms. In the least severe, blistering is confined to hands and feet, making holding things and walking extremely painful. In more severe forms, all the body is affected and wounds heal very slowly, giving rise to scarring, physical deformity and significant disability.
- People with more severe types of EB also have an exceptionally high risk of developing skin cancers, shortening life expectancy by approximately 30-40 years. In its most severe form, the condition is fatal in infancy.
The skin condition affects about 5,000 people in the UK.
It causes the skin to become very fragile and any trauma or friction can result in painful blisters.
The family previously said they had taken part in the TV programme as they wanted to make life easier for others coping with the condition.
Family friend Adam Murry paid tribute to the boys' parents for their round-the-clock care.
He said: "They dedicated their entire lives to the boys. It's a 24-hour-a-day job caring for children in those circumstances.
"Their love and compassion was just incredible. My hat also goes off to all the people who supported the family throughout."
A minute's applause will also take place in memory of the boys before AFC Bournemouth's League One game against Bury on Saturday.