Samantha Lussier honoured as a Manitoba Hero
Cody Zaporzan, CONTRIBUTOR
An 11-year-old’s life was saved after a Red River College student raised $30,000 for the girl’s medical expenses. Samantha Lussier, a photography student, raised the money for Allexis Siebrecht who travelled to Toronto for a life-saving liver transplant last year.
Our Manitoba Heroes honoured Lussier at a gala at the Club Regent Event Centre Sept. 17. The annual event recognizes five Manitobans for their courage and compassion.
Allexis was born with the rare liver disease biliary atresia. The disease affects one out of 19,000 Canadians, according to the Canadian Biliary Atresia Registry. If the disease isn’t treated within 90 days of birth, there is an 80 per cent chance the person will require a liver transplant.
In 2015, Lussier saw a Facebook post with the details of Allexis’s disease. “They were looking for somebody of O positive blood type, and I had O positive,” Lussier said.
Allexis has two siblings close to her age. It reminded Lussier of her own siblings, who are close to Lussier’s age. “If my sister or brother was in that situation, I hope somebody would step up and do anything they could to help,” Lussier said.
Lussier started the necessary tests in Winnipeg.
A few weeks later, Lussier flew to Toronto for a final round of testing before donating her liver.
When the results came back, Lussier’s liver was unsuitable for donation. “I was upset, but I came home, and we raised as much money as we could,” she said.
She held a Bud, spud and steak fundraiser to raise money for Allexis. Lussier raised more than $30,000 from the dinner fundraiser and from selling homemade bracelets with Allexis’ name.
She met Allexis for the first time after Lussier’s trip to Toronto. “It was definitely an emotional day,” Lussier said. “This kid who could have been sick all her life was so energetic and happy. You’d never know she was sick. She is very inspirational.”
Allexis’s health was deteriorating rapidly before receiving a phone call from Toronto saying she would get a liver from a donor.
“I was so happy because it was really hard work for me to do physical activity,” Allexis said. “I couldn’t breathe.”
“She couldn’t even do stairs anymore,” added her mother, Liz.
Allexis recovered within days. She is involved with her school basketball and badminton teams and dances hip-hop and jazz.
“She’s really inspirational and a positive role model,” Allexis said about Lussier.
Lussier said Allexis’s strength inspired her to follow her own dreams. She is enrolled in RRC’s professional photography program and will graduate in 2017.