Carrie Deklyen is currently 21 weeks pregnant and on a ventilator and feeding tube. Her family says she chose to delay her own treatments for a life-threatening tumor to save her unborn baby. Now, they wait.
Deklyen, 37, started having headaches in April. After the Wyoming, Michigan, mom woke up vomiting one morning and made a trip to the emergency room, doctors discovered a brain tumor.
She was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a highly aggressive brain tumor. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the “highly malignant” tumor spread quickly.
Deklyen had brain surgery to try to remove the tumor. A few weeks later, her sister-in-law Sonya Nelson said that she found out she was pregnant.
Though Deklyen had been planning to participate in a clinical trial at the University of Michigan, her family said, she was told she would need to terminate the pregnancy in order to do so.
“I asked her what she wanted to do. She said, ‘We are keeping it,'” Carrie’s husband Nick Deklyen told ABC News. “That always was my choice too, but I wanted her to decide because it was her life we were talking about.”
Deklyen then had three additional brain surgeries at Michigan Medicine, part of the University Michigan, the family said. Though the tumor was removed twice, it grew back.
On July 27, Nelson drove Carrie Deklyen to the emergency room because she was having severe headaches.
“We thought she would have some fluid removed from her brain and we would head home, but instead she suffered a stroke,” Sonya Nelson told ABC News.
“It has been almost three weeks since that day and Carrie has still not woken up,” Nelson continued. “Some days we are hopeful that she will wake up because she will wiggle her toes or squeeze our hand. We want her to wake up.”
Nelson said the family was told the prognosis is not good, but the baby could survive. She has started a GoFundMe campaign called Cure 4 Carrie by Sonya DeKlyen Nelson.
“We are just hoping she can hold on long enough to deliver the baby,” she said.
Nick Deklyen said it’s been difficult for their other children. The Michigan couple already has five kids — Elijah, 18, Isaiah, 16, Nevaeh, 11, Lelia, 4, and Jez, 2.
“The older ones obviously understand everything so it is very hard on them,” Nick Deklyn said. “They love their mother and know what they are losing. We talk about good times and laugh and then sometimes we just cry because we hurt so much. The younger two do not really understand what is happening. They know they sleep at Aunt Sonya’s all the time and do not see Mommy anymore. We tell them that Mommy is really sick.”
The hospital told ABC News that she is “on a good path to get through the pregnancy.”
“Carrie’s condition is slowly improving, but she’s still critically ill,” a spokesperson for the University of Michigan hospital told ABC News. “She is opening her eyes and following commands, like squeezing her hands and wiggling her toes. Our maternal fetal medicine specialists and neurosurgical teams continue to support the DeKlyen family in optimizing care for Carrie and her baby during this difficult situation. We will continue to do everything we can to support them.”
Nick Deklyen told ABC News that Carrie is “kind and loving to everyone she meets.” He said she would cook meals for neighbors, took her kids on picnics and tucked them in every night.
“I want the world to know that Carrie is truly one of a kind,” he said. “She is the most selfless person I have ever met. Her love for Jesus shined through in everything she did. I will miss her so much, but I know we will meet again in heaven when time is done.”
The couple picked a name for their unborn daughter — Life — and Nick Deklyen said he plans to tell her all about Carrie.
“I will tell her how amazing her mother was,” he said. “I will tell her of the great sacrifice that her mom made for her. My kids have been so lucky to call her Mom.”