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Enduring severe pain, bone marrow transplant needed from teen’s sister

It was only a 25 percent chance. Fifteen-year-old Zoi Bailey was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Anemia at birth and suffers from severe pain crisis.

Her visits to the hospital once were two to three times a year, once a month and currently are every two weeks.

According to her mother, Lisa Morris, when the trips to the hospital became more frequent doctors suggested a bone marrow transplant to lessen the pain and give her a better quality of life.

“It was a blessing,” said Morris of the news of a match.

“She has an amazing team of specialists at MCV,” said Morris.

However, when Zoi’s brother and sister were tested doctor’s warned Morris it would only be a 25 percent chance that either of them would be a match and it would be a possibility that she would have to be added to the donor list.

Zoi’s parents both had the trait, which was passed to her but none of her siblings have Sickle Cell Anemia, said Morris.

“When they called to tell me the news she asked was I standing or sitting down and we were both almost crying because it was just such a blessing,” said Morris.

Her brother, Zion and her sister, Zolae were both a match.

But doctor’s felt more comfortable going forward with the procedure with her sister, 11-year-old Zolae. 

So the long road trips to Richmond to MCV medical center began, where the two sisters have been undergoing all the necessary testing to make sure they’re healthy enough for the procedure to take place within the next month.

Morris said the process began about four months ago and it has been challenging for the family.

“Even though she struggles with her health, we don’t struggle with our faith because God is who brought us through and will continue to every day,” said Morris.

Zolae said she isn’t scared to do the procedure and she knows that she, and her sister will be in the hospital at the same time, which is comforting.

 “I just wanted her to stop having crises. I didn’t like her being in pain all the time,” said Zolae.

“Sometimes they see her in pain and they all end up crying,” said Morris.

Young Zoi is in constant severe pain. When she has a severe pain crisis she curls up in pain, can’t walk, has to have IV fluids, oxygen, medication and breathing treatments.

With Sickle Cell Anemia, the red blood cells can become sickle shaped and stick together and during a pain episode it can affect the entire body and last from a few hours to a few weeks or even be ongoing.

One of the biggest concerns Morris has for Zoi is infection. 

“She can’t swim in pools or certain water because it’s so easy for her to get an infection,” said Morris.

Through it all her mother said she has had some true friends who will come and sit with her at her doctor appointments, in her hospital room and just hang out.

“Brianna Parker, Christian Coleman and Tyasia Owen have really been there,” said Morris.

Along with friends, Zoi has had support from her family especially her “devoted aunt” Jackie Morris.

“Anytime she is in the hospital, Jackie is going to make sure Zoi gets a teddy bear,” said Morris. 

And even though Zoi is limited to what activities she can do because of her condition, she still enjoys being with her friends and even looks forward to taking a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., after the procedure.

Following the transplant it will be a lengthy recovery process for Zoi but she hopes to be more active afterwards.

In an effort to offset medical expenses a musical benefit will be held for Zoi Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Mount Olive Baptist Church. Musical guests and speakers include Jeter Chapel Youth Choir, Crystal Hill Youth Choir, Genesis, soloists, Elder Brandon Smith, the Rev. Antori Brown, Minister Larry Burrell II and Overseer Myra Lykes and other invited guests and guest speakers. 

For more information or to give a donation contact Jackie Morris at 434-446-8116 or Renee’ McCargo at 434-222-6406. 

Zoi is the daughter of Lisa Morris and Melvin Bailey and close family friend Marques Walker. She has two sisters and two brothers, Zolae Bailey, Jasmine Daniel, John Daniel and Zion Bailey and she resides in South Boston.