Breaking News
More () »

Child with rare cancer needs Bone Marrow Transplant

With the help of "Be the Match," Zoe Smith's family has started a national search for a donor.

MINNEAPOLIS — Kirsten Smith helped her daughter learn to walk.

But now, her little girl is showing her how to navigate life's hurdles.

“Zoe is stronger than both her father and myself,” she said fighting tears. “I remember we insisted we have to buy a baby gate because she is so active. We don’t want her falling down the stairs.”

Kirsten and her husband, who live in Minneapolis, said they were visiting family in Idaho Falls, Idaho when they noticed something with Zoe was different. Zoe wasn't active.

“She wasn't playing. She was unhappy and uncomfortable,” Smith said.

So, she took the one-year-old to a doctor. The Smiths said initially the doctor prescribed an antibiotic to treat an ear infection but there was no change.

Broken bones and teething were also ruled out.

Later, a trip to the ER revealed Zoe has Chronic Myeloid Leukemia or CML. The American Cancer Society says it, “is a type of cancer that starts in certain blood-forming cells of the bone marrow.” Her leukemia is in a blast crisis, which is causing her to have a second type of leukemia, the more aggressive Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia or ALL.

RELATED: A man, a dog, and their unbreakable bond

RELATED: Disney+ to stream Zach Sobiech movie, 'Clouds'

“We had been there an hour and a half. The room flooded with all of the people who had seen us which to me should've been a sign,” Smith said. "They said this is something we see in patients with leukemia. At the time, I was floored and shocked. I didn’t think that meant Zoe had lukemia. This is horribly unfair but also seeing God’s hand in everything so far. Feeling really blessed because we have so much support." 

Zoe was airlifted to Children's Hospital in in Utah, where she started chemotherapy. And doctors say the one-year old also needs a bone marrow transplant to survive. With the help of "Be the Match," the Smith family has started a national search for a donor.

Her case is so rare – there are no matches for Zoe among her family. There are also none right now on Be The Match's Donor Registry. The Smiths say they need a hero.

“Yes. Zoe needs someone who will step up and say, ‘I am going to order a kit. Almost like one of those DNA tests you get in mail. Free easy and painless,” Smith said. For us, hope is that Zoe can get a bone marrow match. Her transplant can go smoothly and be done with this phase of her life as soon as possible and be together without our family. And have Zoe happy and healthy.”

RELATED: Buddy Check 11 - Take charge of your health

Zoe has not returned to Minneapolis since her diagnosis. She is still in Utah. Her parents won’t risk flying her back on a commercial flight because she is immunocompromised. They started a GoFundMe page to help offset medical bills and cost of living expenses, which has raised more than $100,000. To join the registry for Zoe, visit their website.

“Through all sorts of interesting genetics complete random strangers who share all of the DNA markers could be a match,” Smith said. “Sign up for 'Be the Match' even if you don’t share our ethnic background.” 

Before You Leave, Check This Out