Marrow donor gives miracle baby second chance

Marrow donor gives miracle baby second chance

CLEVELAND - It was a day of gratitude that everyone involved knew was never guaranteed.

Baby Denniya Rawls was born fighting an uphill battle, a potentially deadly genetic blood disease.

One person, an anonymous stranger literally saved her life.

This is her story.

When tiny Denniya was admitted to Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital in March, doctors said she was "close to death."

"She was really almost in liver failure and could not breathe well," says Cleveland Clinic Dr. Rabi Hanna. 

Hanna is the Department Chairman of Pediatrics Hematology Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation.

Denniya had a severe blood disorder known as Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, or “HLH”.

Denniya’s mother, Robin Thornton breaks it down in the terms she had to come to understand.

"It’s a genetic disease, kind of like sickle cell. It like ate up her immune system. Her body was fighting against itself," says Thornton.

“It was kind of devastating because I couldn't help her," says Dennard Rawls, Denniya’s father.

Denniya spent more than 100 days in the hospital.

On Thursday, Dr. Hanna held the chubby cheeked, cherub looking, smiling, miracle baby and told Denniya’s family, "Denniya is finally ready to go home!"

Denniya’s grandmother let out a "Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!"

It was hugs around, in celebration that Denniya was finally leaving.


She is the youngest baby to date to get a lifesaving bone marrow transplant at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

At almost 8 months old, Denniya is now home on Cleveland’s east side, compliments of a 54-year-old anonymous marrow donor.

"Donors are so important. This one gave life to this amazing girl!" said Dr. Hanna.

Denniya’s grateful parents said, “Bless his heart, wherever he is. We can't wait to meet him because this is our miracle baby right here!"

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

“To hear her breathe. To hear her laugh. To see her smile," Thornton can’t even say it without smiling herself.

Denniya’s dad smiling ear to ear as well when he says, “We call her a miracle…Because ya can’t “Denniya” (pronounced Deny-yah) a miracle.”

People like Dr. Hanna who can and have been able to save lives need all of us to register to be potential bone marrow donors.

To register to potentially help save a life, click here

There is an especially dire need of  African Americans to register because there are so few.

Good Stuff endings like Denniya’s start with the donor.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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