Baby survives brain surgery and celebrates first birthday

A valley baby traveled across the country to get a life-saving surgery.

The parents say the state-funded insurance plan initially rejected the out of state medical costs, but the insurance agreed to pay for the costs, and now the baby is recovering from the surgery in Memphis.

This afternoon FOX 10 spoke with Reese's parents, they are in Memphis and say doctors removed most of Reese's brain tumor.

It's a huge milestone for Reese and today he reached another, his very first birthday.

"He's out, very sleepy, but he's comfortable," said Erin Zmayefski.

Reese survived a possibly life-saving, nine-hour surgery on Tuesday. A surgery his patients say nearly didn't happen as they fought with their Arizona state aid insurance to get the surgery from experts out of state.

A doctor with Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis offered to do the rare surgery for free, and Aerocare Ambulance in Scottsdale stepped in to fly Reese to Tennessee for free.

Now the insurance has agreed to cover additional medical costs.

"I was thinking we need to get here as fast as we could, it was just a happy moment for me to get here," said David Rhone.

"There is so much relief on our part, especially now that it is done, now that we are here, I just feel like he has such a better chance now," said Zmayfeksi.

The surgery removed 80% of the tumor, his parents call him their miracle baby.

"We want him to know we would never give up on him, and everyone who has been with us, and following him, they aren't giving up on him either, it's been amazing really," she said.

His parents say after a couple weeks of recovery, Reese will head to St. Jude's hospital to start chemotherapy.

If he responds to the treatment, they can come home.