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Rare medical condition claims the life of 11-year-old Idaho Falls girl

By Rett Nelson

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    IDAHO FALLS, Idaho ( — Friends and family are mourning the death of a local girl who succumbed to a rare medical condition last week a few weeks shy of her 12th birthday.

Zion Waynewood of Idaho Falls passed away on Dec. 1 from thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, a life-threatening blood disorder where clots form throughout the body and block the flow of blood to organs, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Zion’s 20-year-old sister, Addy Faith, tells Zion was diagnosed with the condition earlier this year after experiencing fevers, weight loss, bloody nose and low white blood cell count.

“(Doctors) couldn’t get her nose to stop bleeding (during one visit) and that’s when they realized it could be a blood disorder. They ran some tests and found out it was TTP,” Faith says. “She had to get chemotherapy for it.”

Months before, Faith says Zion had been having some behavioral issues, which doctors, in retrospect, say was likely caused by TTP. Otherwise, Zion was completely healthy, and the diagnosis was out of the blue.

Zion was in and out of hospitals for months. Doctors had to cauterize her nose to prevent bleeding. She eventually had a feeding tube. She had numerous blood transfusions and was on multiple medications and steroids, according to her GoFundMe page.

“She then developed Lupus and Stage 3 kidney disease,” writes Zion’s teacher, Amanda Byrd, who started the GoFundMe. “During the week of Thanksgiving, she was admitted to St. Luke’s Children’s hospital in Boise. On December 1st, she passed away at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center with all of her family surrounding her.”

Byrd describes Zion as a “silly, funny” girl who was “happy-go-lucky” and very “sweet” and “considerate of others.” She was a student at Fox Hollow Elementary but attended school online as her condition worsened. Byrd says Zion showed up every day with a smile on her face and did her best, even though she wasn’t feeling well.

After dealing with her own health issues, Byrd felt compassionate towards Zion and wanted to help. That led her to start a GoFundMe for her family’s medical expenses. It’s raised $3,770 in the last four days.

“She was such an amazing girl. I’ve been with her for so long, and I saw her grow up (because I also taught Addy for several years),” says Byrd. “I feel like I’m really close because I’ve been part of their family for eight years.”

Faith started recording music several years ago and Zion always made her and her siblings “feel seen and happy about what they do.” Zion loved nature, singing, dancing, going outside, drawing, coloring and playing with friends, says Faith. She loved joking around and her family meant more to her than anything.

“Anything you can think of that is happy and bright was (what Zion was all about),” Faith explains.

Zion would have turned 12 on Dec. 29, and Faith says it will be hard putting up the Christmas tree without her this year.

But it’s Zion’s smile and personality that Faith will miss most.

“The conversations we used to have, us having our bonding time and her smiling and laughing,” she says. “I’m definitely going to miss her personality most, and anything colorful and bright is just going to remind me of her.”

Faith wrote a song about Zion called “Enjoy the Show,” which she’s excited to sing at her funeral.

Zion’s funeral is Saturday, Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. It will be held at the Church of Christ at 2650 Plommon Street.

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