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3-year-old Calgary cancer patient doing well following US liver transplant

3-year-old Calgary cancer patient doing well following US liver transplant
WATCH: The mother of a Calgary cancer patient says 3-year-old Greta Marofke is recovering well after undergoing liver transplant surgery in Cincinatti. Heather Yourex-West reports on the good news.

It’s been a whirlwind 72 hours for Lindsey Marofke. On Sunday, herĀ 3-year-old daughter, Greta, underwent a day-long surgery to receive a new liver.

“I’m just starting to feel like I can breathe again,” the Calgary mother said in a telephone interview from Cinicnatti, Ohio on Tuesday.

The transplant was necessary because Greta suffers from a rare form of recurrent liver cancer.

“When we first learned that Greta would need a transplant, our [Calgary] doctors sent her case up to Edmonton for the transplant review, and all we really got back from them was, ‘No, we won’t do this,'” Marofke said.

“It surprised us.”

READ MORE: Liver found for 3-year-old Calgary cancer patient, transplant set for Sunday in the US

Undeterred, Marofke reached out to a pediatric liver cancer specialist at the Cincinatti Children’s hospital, who first tried to convince transplant teams in Ontario to help.

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After Greta’s case was again rejected by a transplant board in Toronto, the Marofke’s travelled to Ohio.

“We were just heading down to Cincinatti [Saturday], to wait for a liver to become available for Greta. We had just gone through security when the doctors in Cincinatti called me and told me they had a liver.”

Marofke says Sunday’s surgery was long and difficult.

“The doctors said it was technically challenging, partly because she’s so small and all her veins and arteries are so small, and also because the donor liver was also small.”

A medical team is now monitoring Greta closely, watching for complications. Marofke says in her daughter’s case, there is a chance the little girl will reject the liver, but so far the new organ is working as it should.

READ MORE: Alberta health minister asked about little girl’s liver transplant bill during question period

“We’re also starting to see little bits of [Greta’s personality] coming back,” Marofke said.
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“She told the nurses today she didn’t like them, so her feistiness is starting to show. We’re seeing glimpses of her, so that’s definitely encouraging.”

Also encouraging for the family is the support they’reĀ receiving from people online.

Because Greta’s being treated in the U.S., Canada’s health system is not footing the bill. So far, more than $290,000 has been raised for Greta on a Go Fund Me page, nearly half of the $600,000 (USD) needed.