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9 Jul 2015

AAU Member Fights Disease, Returns to the Court

AAU Member Fights Disease, Returns to the Court

Written by: Shannon Craighead

Seventeen year old Plainfield, IN native Melanie McHenry was diagnosed with Lemierre’s Syndrome in February of 2015. But that didn’t stop her for pursuing the game she loves.

Melanie McHenry in January, before she was diagnosed.What started out as a sore throat quickly took a turn for the worst. After a week of a sore throat, fever, chills and vomiting, she was rushed to the emergency room at Riley Children’s Hospital. Her oxygen levels dropped rapidly the next few nights and she was given a cannula tube to provide an oxygen flow.

“She was miserable, and her lips were cracked because she couldn't drink anything,” said Marsha McHenry, Melanie’s mother. “She was very, very close to having a breathing tube put down her throat.  The insertion of a chest tube on her right side drained 5 liters of fluid and gave her some relief along with the zillion bags of antibiotics she was hooked up to.”

McHenry was in the hospital for a week before her diagnosis of Lemierre’s Syndrome. 

“I was scared,” McHenry said. “Going into the first week and not knowing what was wrong with you was the most frightening part about everything. I thought I was going to die. I thought I wasn’t going to make it through. I thought I would never play volleyball again. Going through all the medication for the first week, I was about to give up because I couldn’t take it anymore. 

This diagnosis at least gave them answers they were looking for. The infection from her sore throat got into her jugular vein and formed a clot. It continued to her blood stream and caused pneumonia as well as other serious issues. Not only is it rare, but it could have been fatal.

“The doctors at Riley saved her life, along with the "big man" upstairs who heard all of our prayers,” said McHenry mother. “I can't possibly describe the dark place we were in, but our friends, the volleyball community and family helped pull us back.”

Melanie McHenry in January, before she was diagnosed.McHenry plans to attend University of Louisville in the fall of 2016. But for now, she will be focused on getting stronger 

and coming back from this better than ever in the fall not only for volleyball season, but her football season as well. McHenry is a kicker for Speedway High School’s football team. 

"It means so much [to be able to play at the AAU Volleyball National Championships] that I can’t even put it into words,” McHenry said. “To be able to play the sport that I love again after everything I went through means miracles do happen. And after I was released from the hospital I was determined to beat this disease and put it in my past once and for all.”

McHenry’s mother added, “She still has a very long way to go. But her muscles will return as she continues to do normal activities, train and starts kicking footballs this summer.”

Circle City 17 Purple finished 9th in 17 Open at the 2015 AAU Girls’ Junior National Volleyball Championships. Missing the Championship Division Bracket by one match (a 15-8 loss in the third game of their crossover match), their tournament record was 9-3 and went on to win the Consolation Division Championship.

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