A much-loved baby boy has died at just 14 months old after falling victim to leukaemia.
Finley Bailey passed away in hospital only weeks after he was diagnosed with the disease. His funeral was yesterday.
His heartbroken parents Gary Bailey and Carly Burnett have paid tribute to their only son.
Carly, 23, said: “He was just such a happy little baby. Everyone loved him. He was such a cheeky little boy.”
Gary, 27, added: “As soon as somebody met him they loved him and that just made us so proud.”
The couple noticed something was wrong when they spotted a rash on his arm at the start of March.
Staff at Calderdale Royal Hospital’s accident and emergency department suspected meningitis at first.
But after further tests, Gary and Carly were told the devastating news – their son had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
“Meningitis was hard enough, but to find out your little baby has got cancer is just horrendous,” said Carly. Finley was rushed to Leeds General Infirmary, where he underwent more tests, lumbar punctures and three bouts of chemotherapy.
Gary said: “Even in hospital, with all that going on around him, he’d have chemo or major surgery, then he’d be up playing in his cot after 20 minutes.”
“It didn’t faze him at all,” Carly added.
After two weeks of treatment, things were looking up and Finley was allowed home to Keswick Close in Siddal, Halifax, where the young family had just moved.
Gary, an engineer at Frederick Crowther and Son, Halifax, said: “When we brought him home here it was supposed to be a fresh start. “Everything had to be sterilised and he wasn’t allowed tap water because he had no immune system.
“We had to get into our heads a whole new way of life again.”
But tragedy struck on Mothers’ Day when Finley fell ill with an infection.
Gary and Carly were taking Finley to see his grandma and great-grandma when they noticed he was pale and in pain, and took him back to hospital.
Gary said: “They said instantly he needed a blood tranfusion, and he got a little bit of colour back after that.
“They said it was just an everyday infection.”
Their little boy died just three days later on March 20.
Carly said: “He was struggling to breathe and his heart stopped for about 15 to 20 minutes.
“They got it started again, then it stopped for another 25 minutes. They got it started again but they said if it stopped again it wouldn’t be fair to him, because he’d already gone 45 minutes.
“When it started to go down again they just laid him on us and let him drift away.”
Finley touched a lot of hearts in his short life and his death has devastated all who knew him.
He was the great-grandson of ex-Halifax Rugby League player John Burnett and his wife Sandra.
He was also the grandson of John and Alison Burnett and John and Janet Elliott, and the nephew of Jon Elliott, Michael Bailey, Emily and Amber Burnett and Mollie and Karrie Martin.
The family are fund-raising for the children’s cancer charity Candlelighters in little Finley’s memory.
They plan to organise a charity event with local sports teams and an auction, and Savile Park Day Nursery, where Finley went, wants to fund-raise too.
Gary, a former mechanic in the Army, and his brother Jon will also take part in the Great North Run in September in aid of the charity.
“We didn’t think we were going to have to do it in memory of him, but we are now,” said Gary.
“Candlelighters made us and him feel that little bit more normal in hospital. They are a brilliant charity and all the staff are too.”
The couple praised staff on Ward 76 at LGI, and the Sick Children’s Trust, which gave them a room in Eckersley House near the hospital for a week while Finley was being treated.
They also want to raise awareness of the importance of giving blood.
Gary has just signed up as a donor and has booked his first appointment.
He said: “When Finley was in hospital he had three blood transfusions and four platelet transfusions.
“You don’t realise until you need it and you are sat there at two o’clock in the morning when they are putting somebody else’s blood into him. It just opens your eyes.”
Carly, who works for the Direct Group in Elland, added: “If people hadn’t done that for Finley he would have been taken so much quicker.”
• To donate to Candlelighters in Finley’s memory, visit www.justgiving.com/gary-bailey. You can also give by texting GBFB99 plus the amount you wish to donate (with a £ sign) to 70070.
• To become a blood donor and find sessions near you visit www.blood.co.uk, and to give to the Sick Children’s Trust visit www.sickchildrenstrust.org.