Family of Baby Reef, Boy Battling Cancer, Faces Deportation

Reef Carneson's father is working with an immigration attorney to get authorization to work in the United States so his son can continue treatments

A family who left their home in South Africa to get life-saving medical treatment for their young son in Los Angeles faces deportation, even though the boy remains gravely ill.

Reef Carneson is a little guy with big smile - and an incredible fighting spirit.

Although Reef is 6 years old, he's known as Baby Reef, after his courageous story of survival made headlines around the world.

Reef was born in Johannesburg. At 5 months he beat an aggressive form of Leukemia and became that country's youngest bone marrow transplant survivor.

"Every time the doctors told us he's not going to make it we would prepare to lose him and he would bounce back. He was just a miracle," said Reef's mother, Lydia Carneson.

His Internet videos made him a star around the globe. But despite his brave battle, Reef developed complications. In 2011 at age 3, he had to travel to Children's Hospital Los Angeles for a treatment to save his life.

Six months later he took his first steps. He was improving with rehab, but the family's tourist visa expired. They were in danger of being deported, and by now had added sister Peyton to the family.

Their visa restrictions don't allow them to work and the only way they could all stay together in America was if one of them became a student. So Reef's father Ryan Carneson, a former veterinarian, went to culinary school and became a pastry chef.

That student visa is set to expire, and Baby Reef received more bad news: three weeks ago he was diagnosed with skin cancer on his head.

Ryan Carneson is considering extending his student visa by going back to school again - but the family is out of money. An LA company called Good Deeds in Motion has stepped in to help raise money for the family.

"We have a passion to make sure they can stay here as long as they can," said Bronwyn Spencer of Good Deeds in Motion.

Reef's skin cancer is being treated with chemotherapy cream. If it doesn't work he'll need a risky surgery. For now, he isn't allowed to play outside since sun exposure can be deadly.

The Carnesons are working with an immigration attorney who is trying to get government authorization for Ryan to work.

"We're the kind of people who are open and honest and don't want to work under the table or do anything illegal or anything that would hinder this country that has given us such an amazing experience and opportunities," he said.

"It makes you look at your life and realize you don't have a reason to complain," he added. "If this little boy can go through everything he goes through on a daily basis and still smile, I cannot complain about the minor things that happen in my life. My son is my hero."

Anyone who would like to donate to Reef's family can do so by clicking here.

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