TORONTO - A Winnipeg girl, whose family went public with its plea for a liver donor, was undergoing transplant surgery in Toronto on Monday after suddenly receiving word about a possible organ match.
Eleven-year-old Allexis Siebrecht, who was born with a rare liver disease, was told late Saturday night that a liver was available from a deceased donor.
An air ambulance then flew her to Toronto, at which point she was admitted to the Hospital for Sick Children.
Allexis was diagnosed when she was a baby with biliary atresia, which impedes bile transport from the liver to the small intestine.
Her mother had appealed for a donor in March after learning her daughter needed a transplant within three to six months.
Family friend Tina Lussier says Allexis's surgery began at 7 a.m. and was expected to last up to 12 hours.
She added that the pre-teen was in good spirits before heading into the operating room.
"She was feeling pretty good," she said. "She doesn't act like a sick kid. You wouldn't know other than the jaundice."
Allexis's mother, Liz Siebrecht, who is at the hospital with her daughter, is tired but calm, said Lussier.
"She's just waiting at the hospital, wandering the halls waiting to hear something," she said. "I am absolutely in awe of this woman, she is so patient and faithful and optimistic."
Allexis had eight surgeries over the past two years before being listed for a liver transplant, but Lussier said Siebrecht has managed to stay positive while also caring for her two other children.
"Her children are all very well taken care of very well behaved and very happy," Lussier said. "She just dedicates every moment she can to being a mother."
Lussier, who grew close to the Siebrechts after her own 25-year-old daughter offered to donate part of her liver to Allexis before finding out she wasn't a match, said the response the case has drawn has been "overwhelming.'
"I think it's absolutely wonderful that so many people came forward to be tested for no reason other than to help," she said. "It's also raised a lot of awareness about living donors."
Lussier added that Allexis got word of her possible liver match from the deceased donor just days before her family was going to announce a living donor who had been found to help.
"Later that night, they got the page," she said.
Fundraising efforts continue to help support Allexis and her family, Lussier said, noting that while some $17,000 had been raised so far, more would be needed to help the family, who might have to stay in Toronto for up to six months after Allexis's surgery.
Allexis's fundraising page: http://www.gofundme.com/fcmk3c