Baby dies days after funeral for mom who refused chemo to save her

DETROIT — Eight days after the funeral for a Michigan mother who refused cancer treatment to save her expected daughter, the infant died Wednesday, family confirmed.

Carrie DeKlyen, 37, a mother of six from Wyoming, Mich., was unconscious and gravely ill with an aggressive brain tumor when she delivered Life Lynn on Sept. 6. The baby weighed just 1 pound, 4 ounces at birth and was in the neonatal intensive care unit at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

DeKlyen declined to participate in a clinical trial or undergo chemotherapy, options that probably would have extended her life but also would have meant terminating her pregnancy. The day after Life's birth, doctors removed DeKlyen's feeding and breathing tubes, and she died Sept. 9. Life died Wednesday. 

"She had a rough day yesterday," Sonya Nelson, DeKlyen's sister-in-law said Thursday. "She was kind of up and down all day... They weren't able to get her blood gas levels where they needed to be." 

Nelson, who's taking care of two of Life's five siblings, said she explained the death to her sister, Lelia.

"I told Lelia — who is 4 — Life was really sick, and she had to go live with Jesus and with mommy. And she said, 'She had to go, too? Why?' " Nelson said. She said the girls' father, Nick Deklyen, is not doing well as he faces the family's second tragedy in two weeks. "This is tough — this is just tough stuff."

More than 3,000 Facebook users reacted and posted sorrowful comments in response to a post that shared the news on a page used by love ones to share the DeKlyens' updates.

"It is with great sadness and a absolutely broken heart that I tell you Life Lynn passed away last night. Carrie is now rocking her baby girl," according to the Facebook post on the Cure 4 Carrie page.

Life was Carrie and Nick DeKlyen's sixth child. The surviving children range in age from 2 to 18. A GoFundMe page called "Cure 4 Carrie," which was set up to help the family, had raised more than $155,000 by Thursday morning. 

Contributing: Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press. Follow Robert Allen on Twitter: @rallenMI

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