Almost two years after receiving a life-saving liver transplant, 13-year-old Allexis Siebrecht is hoping to represent Manitoba at an international athletic competition for kids who have received organ transplants.
Allexis was born with biliary atresia, a rare liver disease that meant she needed a new liver at age 11.
Before the transplant, the condition meant even things as simple as breathing were difficult for her, but not anymore, Allexis says.
"Before I had my transplant I felt, like, really tired, and I felt like I couldn't walk up any stairs. I was getting sick a lot," she said. "And now I'm just active and hyper and running and doing all these sports."
Last year, she competed in the Canadian Transplant Games and brought home some serious hardware — nine medals in swimming, badminton, tennis and track and field. The wins also meant she qualified for this year's World Transplant Games in Malaga, Spain, where she would be the only Manitoba competitor.
Now, the family is trying to raise the nearly $6,000 they need to get her there.
Connection to other families
The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $5,675 — around half of the total cost of the trip for Allexis, her sister Jersey and mom Liz Siebrecht.
Liz said going to the Canadian version of the games meant a lot to their family. Allexis still keeps in touch with friends she made there.
"When I saw her compete in the Canadian Transplant Games in Toronto it was … nothing short of phenomenal. I was just, like, so in awe and just, 'Wow, this is amazing,'" she said.
"It would just be such a great experience to experience it again," Liz added. "When we went to the Canadian Transplant Games in Toronto, we felt a connection there with the other families who have been through the same things that we have went through as a family."
Allexis is already preparing for the tough competition. To stay in shape, she runs with her dog and swims three times a week, she said.
She says she's excited for the joy of competition, but also the family time she'd spend at the games.
"It's nice that you can take your family there, and the families can, like, cheer on the transplant recipients," she said.
"I'm feeling, like, really, really energetic, and really good, and, like, really, really happy. And I'm looking really, really forward to competing."