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Young Calgary cancer patient recovering from liver transplant needs ‘a miracle’

Greta update June 20
A recovery update was posted to young cancer patient Greta Marofke’s Facebook page on June 20, 2017 with this photo. Greta's Guardians / Facebook

A Calgary family whose GoFundMe was able to raise over $300,000 to pay for an out-of-country liver transplant for their three-year-old daughter posted an update to Greta Marofke’s recovery, but it wasn’t the news loved ones were hoping for.

“While Greta is doing very well after her liver transplant, we got some very devastating news last week,” reads the Tuesday Facebook post from Greta’s Guardians.

“Greta has spots in her lungs that are almost certainly cancer.”

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

Shortly before her second birthday, Greta had been diagnosed with hepatablastoma, a rare form of pediatric liver cancer. Although the cancer was initially put into remission, the disease returned.

Watch below from May 9: The mother of a Calgary cancer patient says three-year-old Greta Marofke is recovering well after undergoing liver transplant surgery in Cincinnati. Heather Yourex-West reports 

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

Greta’s parents were told their little girl would need a liver transplant in order to have any chance at surviving the cancer, but after reviewing the girl’s case, transplant teams in both Alberta and Ontario refused to do the surgery.

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Undeterred, Greta’s mother Lindsey reached out to a cancer specialist in the U.S. and last month, she had transplant surgery at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She has been undergoing chemotherapy in Cincinnati since then.

READ MORE: Young Alberta cancer patient dances in video posted 2 weeks after liver transplant

“Our teams in Cincinnati and Calgary are not giving up on us, but as our oncologist told us, we need a miracle,” reads the online post. “We have a tentative plan to try yet another drug with the hopes it will stop the growth and we can then remove the spots.”

The update said Greta had restarted chemotherapy after her transplant, “so the fact that her cancer has spread while on chemo is very scary.”

“Greta has been feeling so well since her transplant, it’s so hard to believe this is going on again in her tiny little body. We are hoping to return home soon to continue her treatment plan there.”

Read the full post here:

Because her transplant was done outside of Canada, the surgery and after-care are not being covered by Alberta Health.  So far, more than $307,000 has been raised via a GoFundMe page.

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According to Stanford Children’s health, hepatablastoma is a very rare cancerous tumour that starts in the liver. The cancer primarily affects children from infancy to about three years of age. Symptoms include:

  • A large abdominal mass, or swollen abdomen
  • Weight loss, decreased appetite
  • Early puberty in boys
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Fever
  • Itching skin
  • Enlarged veins on the belly that can be seen through the skin

With files from Heather Yourex-West