A couple’s terrible 30-year secret

Dan and Babs Izzett
Dan and Babs Izzett

Meet Dan and Babs.

They have been telling their scarcely believable story to church congregations in London and South West England. They waited nearly 30 years to open up about their terrible secret, for fear of people’s reactions.

What was their secret?

They had both been treated for leprosy.

Dan, 67, first displayed symptoms of the disease in the 1960s, which were misdiagnosed by doctors for several years. It was not until 1970, when he developed a rash over his body, that doctors finally realised what was wrong, and treated him for leprosy.

Their love was stronger

“Babs and I were newly married and I thought it was the honourable thing to tell her that I would understand if she wanted to have the marriage annulled as there was such stigma surrounding leprosy,” said Dan. “But she replied that firstly she loved me and secondly, we had made a vow before God and the people at our wedding to stay with one another ‘in sickness and in health’.”

Tragically leprosy had caused permanent nerve damage to occur in Dan’s body prior to him receiving treatment. He has ‘clawed’ hands and his right leg had to be amputated from below the knee. Doctors have recently been able to save his left leg after having it in plaster for more than a year. Despite all these trials, Dan and Babs believe that God is using their condition for good.

He has been carrying out advocacy work for The Leprosy Mission and travelled to India during his time as a board member for The Leprosy Mission International.

People in India were shocked

“It was in India that I saw what a blessing my clawed hands were,” he said. “Because I was a Caucasian visitor, there was no way people living in Indian leprosy colonies would think I was affected by the disease. But when doing the traditional ‘namaste’ greeting where you put your hands together and bow your head, they were astonished to see that I had leprosy-affected hands. I realised my role was as a voice for those whose voices cannot be heard.”

If you think others would be encouraged by Dan and Babs’ story, please share it.



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