When Maryelle was just 5 months old, she began to run a fever and started pulling at her ear.
Her parents, Chasity and Michael, assumed their baby had an ear infection. “Maryelle was prescribed antibiotics, but she didn’t seem like she was feeling any better,” Chasity said. “A million things can spark a fever, but I couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t getting better. She was getting worse.”
Days passed and Maryelle’s fever still wouldn’t break, so her parents took her back to the doctor, who ordered bloodwork.
“All of her counts were low,” Chasity said.
Maryelle’s doctor immediately sent them to a local children’s hospital. A day after they arrived, Maryelle was referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she was diagnosed with and began treatment for hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a rare disorder in which the immune system no longer works properly.
“Once St. Jude came into the picture, everything was so fast,” said Chasity. “Time means everything in a situation like this, and St. Jude diagnosed her and started treatment immediately, arranged for her bone marrow transplant quickly. We were shocked how fast everything happened. With God and St. Jude, my baby is alive.”
St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.
“We had people looking out for us as well as for Maryelle,” Michael said. Child Life specialists helped explain what was happening to Maryelle’s big brother, Tamar. “She put it in terms he could understand,” Chasity said. “St. Jude is so inclusive. It’s about the whole family.”
Now, more than a year post-transplant, Chasity and Michael feel like they’re finally seeing Maryelle blossom.
You know, she was just so sick for so long, just kind of existing, and now she’s finally emerging, her personality is shining through. She’s just so full of joy.
Maryelle now visits St. Jude for regular checkups, and her family is hopeful she won’t need further treatment.
She’s a social butterfly who wakes up smiling and laughing, and she loves books and music, and dancing and playing with Tamar. “We’re all wrapped around her little finger,” said Michael.
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