Carrie DeKlyen was a beloved wife and mother of six. In the final months of her life, Carrie refused life-saving treatment for herself so that her preborn daughter would not be harmed. Her husband of 17 years, Nick DeKlyen, told People Magazine that Carrie was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in April and soon enrolled in a promising clinical trial at the University of Michigan. Doctors overseeing the clinical trial discovered Carrie was pregnant with the couple’s sixth child, and Carrie was informed the treatment could pose a risk to her developing preborn baby.
Doctors advised Carrie to abort her baby and begin cancer treatment immediately. Carrie refused to end her child’s life, and so she chose to sacrifice her own chance at recovery. Nick explained to People his wife’s courageous decision. He said, “The doctor said if you don’t terminate this baby, Carrie, you will die. But it was Carrie’s decision and I said ‘What do you want to do?’ She said, ‘We’re keeping it.’” Later, they learned the baby was a girl and fittingly named her “Life.”
Over the next few months, Carrie’s condition deteriorated rapidly. The Daily Mirror reports that in June Carrie had a catheter inserted to drain fluid that accumulated on her brain causing headaches so severe that she vomited. In the hospital a week later, Carrie lost consciousness. Carrie was only 19 weeks’ pregnant with Life, which is too early for the baby to be safely delivered. Although there was little chance of helping Carrie, a medical team worked tirelessly to stabilize her so that Life could continue to grow and develop. The family hoped to deliver her at 28 weeks.
Unexpectedly, Life appeared to develop an infection at 24 weeks and five days, and she was delivered weighing just one pound, four ounces. Despite her early arrival, and against such unimaginable odds, Life Lynn DeKlyen is healthy and expected to continue to develop and thrive. Nick told the Associated Press she will need to spend four to five months in the NICU but she is already “almost breathing on her own.”
In the hours after Life’s birth, Carrie was removed from life support. Family, who have shared updates on the Facebook page Cure 4 Carrie, described the day as “a hard day but a comforting day.” While her husband and five other children, ages two to 18, and other relatives gathered around Carrie in her final hours to say goodbye, they had the comfort of the precious gift for which she had sacrificed her life: her daughter.
The family has a strong Christian faith, which has also brought them comfort in such a challenging time. Nick said, “My wife loves the Lord and she loves her children more than anything.” He added, “It’s painful, but this is what she wanted. She wanted to protect this child.”
Baby Life Lynn has continued to have ups and downs in the NICU, but she is still expected to continue to grow and develop. On their Facebook page, her family said they are confident that “Carrie is in heaven still working miracles for her baby girl.”