One-year-old's rare cancer treatment impacted by coronavirus

One-year-old's rare cancer treatment impacted by coronavirus. (Photo courtesy of the family)

Salt Lake City, Utah (KUTV) -- A Minnesota mom and one-year-old are in Utah’s Primary Children’s hospitals dealing with the child’s rare type of cancer.

Kirsten Smith lives in Minneapolis but was in Idaho Falls visiting her husband's family when they realized something was not right with their daughter Zoe.

“At first we thought this is just separation anxiety normal one-year-old type stuff. She kind of didn’t want to be away from me and she wasn’t interested in playing with her aunts and uncles,” said Kirsten Smith.

Smith said Zoe stopped playing with her toys, and wasn’t pulling herself up to stand. Doctors first diagnosed her with an ear infection, but antibiotics didn’t help. The family then ruled out teething, and broken bones.

“We’re first time parents but we knew something was wrong,” Smith said. After taking her to the ER in Idaho Falls they learned Zoe had a rare type of Leukemia.

“We had been giving her Tylenol for two days, and she has cancer.

The one-year-old and Kirsten were airlifted to Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital. The two have been there for eleven days and will stay through her treatment.

Zoe has CML leukemia, which is typically an adult cancer. Doctors said her leukemia is in a blast crisis which is causing her to have a second type of leukemia. Smith said there have only been seven cases like this in the past 15 years.

It's been even more difficult because Zoe's dad and other family are not allowed to see her because of coronavirus restrictions.

My husband called Primary Children's and what they told him was basically unless she was dying that he couldn’t come. Which when your child is diagnosed with cancer is all it feels like is my child is dying.

Coronavirus has thrown yet another wrench in Zoe's treatment, there is now a shortage of blood donations. That prevents Zoe from getting all the blood transfusions and platelets she needs to feel better.

“Zoe sometimes has to let her platelet levels and her hemoglobin levels drop even lower before they’ll consider giving her more. And that’s really hard because she is exhausted and in pain,” said Smith.

Click here to find a blood donation site near you.

Zoe has started chemo, and she will need a bone marrow transplant. Smith said that alone costs over $150,000. Family has started a gofundme to raise money for Zoe's care.

Kirsten said she and Zoe will stay in Utah through her bone marrow transplant. She said the staff and Zoe’s care there has been great. Smith said they also cannot return home to Minnesota because they can’t travel with Zoe, as cancer patients are immunocompromised, and more susceptible to the coronavirus.