Baby battles for his life; parents fight with insurance company over procedure

PHOENIX (KSAZ) -A baby is fighting for his life, and his parents are now fighting with their insurance company.The family says their state-funded insurance won't approve a possible life-saving surgery that would be performed out of state.

Baby Reese has already survived a lot, 25 pounds of pressure in his brain, multiple surgeries, and two months in a hospital. But his parents believe the life-saving procedure he needs is more than a thousand miles away. Reese Rhone has always been a happy baby, even now with tubes in his body. A tumor is growing in his brain stem, and his life is in limbo.

"They said it is inoperable, they said we have no choice with him," said Erin Zmayfeski.

Reese has been at Cardon Children's Hospital in Mesa while his parents searched for a surgeon who could possibly save their son's life. Now they say a surgeon from St. Jude's in Memphis has offered to do the surgery for free. The only cost is a stay at another Memphis Hospital after the surgery.

"Their surgeon came back to us and said they could do the surgery safely and remove as much of it as possible, and then do a batch of chemo, and he had a really good chance of surviving it," said Zmayfeski.

But their AZ state funded insurance could be a roadblock.

"The insurance doesn't want us to leave the state, they want us to go somewhere in-state," she said.

Reese's parents say they are willing to pay out of pocket, for any additional medical costs.

"We really need the insurance company to come through for us, and if they are not, we just need to get this hospital to release us, and let us go to that hospital," said David Rhone, Reese's father.

It's a web of doctors, insurance companies, and a race against time, and all just one week before Reese celebrates his first birthday.

"He's a ticking time bomb, he could be here today, and gone tomorrow," said David.

"We need a miracle," he said.

In a statement tonight Cardon Children's Medical Center said "We understand this is a difficult time for the family, and we're doing everything we can to provide exceptional treatment for the child while he's in our care. We're hopeful the family will receive the support they're seeking in order to get the surgery performed."

The parents say even without insurance approval they will fly their son to Memphis this weekend. The air ambulance flight has already been donated. The family is collecting donations to help with any additional medical costs.

If you'd like to help visit: or donate at any Wells Fargo Branch by donating to the "Reese's Miracle Mission" account.