Baby Reef's Health Improves

It's been three months since Reef Carneson and his family traveled from sunny California to snowy Ohio to meet with doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

The specialists have come up with a new treatment plan for Reef's skin cancer and complications from a bone marrow transplant he received years ago in his native South Africa.

The 6 year old has improved so much the family decided to move to Cincinnati. Reef's immune system is now strong enough for him to attend school.

He's become the most popular kid in his kindergarten class and has gained confidence.

"He's come so far. He's got an attitude in school. He's a big boy," his Mother Lydia Carneson said.

Reef's new classmates have welcomed him with open arms.

"They absolutely love Reef and can't wait for him to get to school," his father Ryan Carneson said. "When they jump off the school bus they're all screaming, 'There's Reef!' They're all very excited."

Reef still has to wear protective clothing to shield his sensitive skin from the sun but he is able to play outside in Ohio where the UV index is much lower than Los Angeles.

A non-profit organization called The Dragonfly Foundation recently arranged for Reef to play baseball with the Cincinnati Reds. He got his own jersey with his name on it and had his name announced over the PA system.

His mother said it was a dream come true.

"Seeing reef's face at the baseball game - having fun - being out - being able to have fresh air.. enjoying life... it's just more than I ever could have imagined."

The family has been granted the legal right to stay in the United States. Ryan Carneson got a job as a pastry chef working for a catering company. The family has had to rely on donations for years. They still have mounds of medical debt but are grateful to finally be moving toward self sufficiency.

"We're finally having the opportunity to live a bit of a normal life, everything we've ever dreamed of," Ryan Carneson said.

The Carnesons want to thank everybody who helped the family over the past few years - including Kars4Kids. The non-profit organization towed the family's car from Los Angeles to Cincinnati when they moved. They are also grateful to Good Deeds in Motion, the LA based non-profit that helped raise money for the family.

The family also wants to thank hundreds of people from their native South Africa who have donated to support the family while they are in America. Their newly extended Visas only allow them to stay in the US two more years and do not entitle the family to state-funded medical support, so they are still receiving donations from supporters to help with Reef’s medical bills.

Reef still has a long road ahead. His doctors have prescribed a new topical cream for his skin cancer and he may eventually need surgery to remove cancerous lesions. But, today his health is stable and for the first time he's truly enjoying life.

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