Karen and Matt Delaney posed last week with their now 4-week-old son, Jake.

Miracle baby
born despite father’s
surgery for cancer

By Helen Altonn

Before he went into surgery for testicular cancer two years ago, Matt Delaney and his wife, Karen, had some of his sperm frozen in case they could not conceive a child naturally.

Jake Matthew, weighing 8 pounds 6 ounces, joined the family Aug. 22, but the frozen sperm was never needed.

"We are just feeling so blessed and so lucky. We're so amazed," said Karen Delaney, pediatric nurse in the intensive care unit of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.

Her husband, chief executive officer of Marc Resorts Hawaii, had surgery Oct. 5, 2000, to remove his cancerous testicle, then underwent radiation five days a week for 15 sessions.

"Some men's sperm regenerates to where they were; some men have permanent damage after radiation," Karen said. "There is no way of knowing."

She said Matthew planned to get another sperm count, but they were advised to wait a year because of the radiation. Recurring tumors also usually happen in the first year, she said.

The 31-year-old childhood sweethearts were shocked when he was diagnosed with cancer because he had always been healthy.

He has a CAT scan every six months and is "doing great," his wife said. "All tests have come back negative.

"We were going to start the whole ball rolling in January (this year), to go ahead and start in vitro (fertilization). They told us even if we did insemination, the (sperm) counts would be so low, it wouldn't be worth it."

So they were "flabbergasted" to learn she was pregnant a few days after Christmas while visiting her parents in the Bay area, she said.

Matthew had asked her what she wanted for Christmas, and she told him all she wanted was to have a baby, she said. "It came true. It's my best Christmas present ever."

But when they left on the trip, she had not thought about being pregnant, she said. "It was so far out of my mind that that was ever going to be an issue."

She suggested taking a test when her period was late a few weeks because she did not want to be drinking at holiday parties if she was pregnant, she said.

Matthew said he "couldn't believe it" when the test was positive. "I said, 'No, we have to do this test again. These things are wrong all the time.'" The second test again was positive, he said.

"Still, it didn't even register. If the doctor said we couldn't have kids, this can't be for real. They had sent us an analysis of the sperm and said it would be very difficult for us to have kids."

Perhaps it happened because they were not thinking about trying to conceive a child, he speculated. "The harder you try, the more stress you put on yourselves. We were not even thinking about it."

They worried about the possibility of a miscarriage and whether the baby would be healthy after everything he went through, he said. "It was a little bit nerve-racking and stressful. And here we have this baby."

Matthew said the baby was expected Aug. 27, and his parents and his wife's mother were planning to come here on the 24th and 25th.

He had just gotten home about 7 a.m. Aug. 22 from a long run when his wife said her water had broken. "Karen was totally calm about it. She packed for me and her."

Their "miracle baby" was born at the Queen's Medical Center at 8:55 that night. He was 20 inches long.

Although Karen works at Kapiolani, they chose Queen's for the birth in case she had any medical problems and because they felt they would have more privacy, Matt said.

"I get a lot of razzing from co-workers," she said. "Both places are comparable."

They did not go to any classes or watch any videos on the birthing process, so he "had no idea what to expect" when he began helping with the delivery, Matthew said.

As soon as their son was born, he said he told his wife, "We need to have another baby right away. It was so incredible."

"Other than lack of sleep, they're so precious right now," he said. "He'll pick his head up and stare at you a little bit, then his head falls back down."

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