Delaney’s Story


Megan Nguyen, Herald Reporter

Freshmen student Marley Delaney has been fighting an illness with her sister and family behind the scenes of her life at school and basketball. Powering through for two years, the war is coming to an end, with the Delaney family as the victor.

Two years ago, Delaney’s sister, Maya- who is now nine years old- was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that was not yet identified by the doctors. There is no easy way to react to news that a beloved family member is sick, but the Delaneys understood that constantly breaking down was not an option. In fact, they did their best to stay supportive for the sake of their enthusiastic daughter and sister.

Recalling the past two years, Delaney said, “She was constantly happy and if you got sad, then it would make her sad, so you just had to stay positive and upbeat with her.

That really helped us all get through this whole thing, but everyone asked, ‘How are you guys not breaking down and stopping?’

‘Well, this is our sister, we can’t just stop and cry. We need to keep fighting, like what she’s doing.’”

According to Delaney, the doctors put her on steroids, which helped for a period of time, but they later found a mass on her brain. They proceeded to give her a lung and brain biopsy, and the news was not good.

“They found out that she had a LRB deficiency, which is basically these cells are just growing on her,” Delaney said. “Then they found out that the only treatment, or kind of option, was to have a bone marrow transplant.”

A bone marrow transplant was the solution to Maya’s dilemma, meaning Delaney was her cure. Delaney’s place in this war was to supply her sister with bone marrow in order to save her life. While this sounds simple, it still took a grueling four months to figure out if Delaney was fit for the job.

When the hospital was able to name Maya’s condition, this empowered Delaney with a new excitement and hope for a better future.

“I was shocked to see what she had, but I was glad that they found out because it took them two weeks to find out what she had and they didn’t know. She’s really rare, so not a lot of people have it. She’s the only case ever to have it the way she has it because she’s not genetic and she didn’t just get it. Most of the time, babies have it. I was glad to find out that we had somewhere to go with it so she can get better,” Delaney said.

While Delaney saw this on a deeper level, her sister continued to think in the mindset of an optimistic nine-year-old girl. Delaney says her sister’s reaction was, “She didn’t react that much. She asked questions like, ‘What does that really mean?’ And then she’s like, ‘Okay. That makes sense,’ and then was like, ‘ great, let’s just keep going and get better.’”

Initially, Delaney was extremely excited to be able to give her bone marrow to her sister, as she was a large part in her sister’s survival.

She said, “I wasn’t really hesitant about it and even coming to surgery, I was like, ‘These people are professionals, I’m not really worried about it. They know what they’re doing. I just want to help my sister get better.’”

Eventually, the day of the surgery came and there was nothing simple about it. The procedure lasted three hours with a total of six incisions, producing 1,000 milliliters of bone marrow. According to Delaney, the surgeons made two incisions on the front and back of her hips and one on each side. They inserted a needle or syringe-like tool into the center of her bone that extracted the marrow. The complications of the procedure lied within the different depths and angles they had to work with in order to gain as much marrow as possible. Later, Delaney’s bone marrow was sent down to a lab where doctors disposed of the material that they decided not to use.

On the day of the surgery, Delaney did not remember feeling extremely nervous, but ready to get the surgery over with and help her sister. However, she recalls her family and the moments before the actual procedure.

She said, “I had to be there at 6:30 in the morning, so I waited there for two hours. I’m listening to music with my family and then they take me back and my parents- they all say ‘bye’. My mom is crying like a mess, but that’s like her normal self.

I go from one room to the other room, I go from one bed to the other bed and then they put on all the heart monitors and they put on these leg cuffs on your calfs so circulation will keep going and then they were playing music for the whole thing. They put on the mask and it was laughing gas, and then they switched it over to the sleep gas- the anesthesia. I took three breaths and I was out.”

After Delaney awoke, she remembers feeling sore and numb from the waist down. Delaney stayed that night at the hospital and was delivered pain meds. However, her spirits were high as the hardest part was over. She woke up and visited her sister, of course, and spoke to others as well. There we no regrets on Delaney’s mind and she feels happy and hopeful for their future.

Fortunately, Delaney’s sister did not have a surgery but was put on an IV bag of the bone marrow. The family awaits the final process of the ordeal when Maya’s cells pertaining to bone marrow will stop producing completely in order for Delaney’s to start growing. According to Delaney, Maya felt great for two days then her energy level began to decrease as a result of Delaney’s bone marrow.

About the process, Delaney says, “And then the next day, she wasn’t feeling as good, so now she’s starting to go downhill because her blood has to stop making completely and then come back up, so she has to hit rock bottom and then come back up. She’s still in the process of coming back up. She’s at- we call it-  ‘Life +8’ , so she had it 8 days ago, so then now, she is basically almost at rock bottom, so hopefully Wednesday/Thursday is when she’s going to start coming back up.”

After two years, the battle is finally concluding for the Delaney family. In order to celebrate, the family is planning something special.

“My sister is going to fully heal and then we want to take a family trip to somewhere tropical. We’ve made it through this whole medical phase. I got to go to New York this summer and my sister couldn’t go, so she’s like, ‘I want to go somewhere. I want to go to Mexico.’ So, we’re going to find a good family vacation,” Delaney says.

With all hope and luck, Delaney’s family is ready to move forward in order to face new challenges in the future, ending this chapter with a family vacation.