Hi, my name is Marlee. I am 9 years old. I was born in Bloomington and transferred to Riley shortly after birth due to respiratory issues. My parents were unaware of my medical issues before I was born, so this was a huge shock to them.
During my 6 month stay at Riley I have 2 surgeries and many tests. After 171 days in the ICU I came home. With me came a lot of medical equipment, including a ventilator. I was fully dependent on the vent to help me breathe and keep me alive.
When I was 18 months old we traveled to San Antonio, Texas to have VEPTR surgery. Two rods were implanted in my back. These rods helped stabilize my spine and give my lungs more room to breathe. Since this surgery I have had an additional 14 surgeries to expand the rods as I have grown. I will have my 19th surgery on November 23. The VEPTR rods have helped me to breathe on my own and not require the ventilator while I am awake.
Over the last several years I have remained fairly healthy and have been able to stay out of the hospital for the most part. When I have been ill or had a post-op complication I have always been able to rely on Riley. Riley doctors, nurses and therapists always know just what to do to get me going again.
In my short 9 years I have experienced a great deal of wonderful things, this is all thanks to Riley Hospital.
Two years ago I went to my first dance marathon at IU, it was a game changer. Since then I have attended 3 other dance marathons. Dance marathon has changed my life in so many ways. I am so blessed by all the wonderful students who help kids like me. I am also grateful for all nice things they do for me. Quoting my girl, Taylor Swift, “The fans have just made me feel like I have won the lottery of dreams coming true.” Dance marathon has done this for me, making me truly feel like a rockstar. Thank you all for being so awesome!