News / Calgary

Calgary girl who received liver transplant in U.S. succumbs to cancer

Three-year-old Greta Marofke sought treatment in Cincinnati when Alberta options ran out

Greta Marofke, 3, received a liver transplant in Cincinnati earlier this year. She was battling hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer. Elizabeth Cameron/For Metro

Elizabeth Cameron / Calgary Freelance

Greta Marofke, 3, received a liver transplant in Cincinnati earlier this year. She was battling hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer. Elizabeth Cameron/For Metro

Three-year-old Greta Marofke spent most of her life bravely fighting for it. The rest of the time, she was making others smile.

A post on the Greta's Guardians Facebook group announced Wednesday morning the Calgary girl had died just hours earlier, after a lengthy battle with a rare childhood cancer of the liver.

"The most beautiful, fantastic, sweet, precious girl left us early this morning. Greta took her last breath snuggled between her Mama and Dada," read the post.

“The pain we feel is unbearable, and words cannot express how much we already miss her, but we know our girl is no longer suffering. Our hearts are broken and will never be the same.”

In the past year, Calgarians rallied around Greta and her family – from hosting all-day music festivals to GoFundMe donations – and raised more than $315,000 to pay for treatment she received in the U.S. after being turned down for a liver transplant in Canada.

Greta’s parents, Lindsey and Steve Marofke, made the decision to take their daughter – known affectionately as ‘Gladiator Greta’ – to Cincinnati for the procedure, where doctors said they were willing to try.

“When I started this fight I said I’m not stopping until every last person has told me it’s not possible,” Lindsey told Metro at the time.

However, after recovering from a successful transplant in May, the family learned that Greta had cancerous spots on her lungs.

They recently returned from a trip to Disneyland, where Greta met her favourite Disney princesses, but her health took a turn for the worse earlier this month.

Greta’s international battle with hepatoblastoma sparked a debate between Alberta politicians about whether or not the province should help pay costs for patients who seek medical treatment out-of-country when procedures are unavailable in Canada.

The Marofke family spent months travelling back and forth between Calgary and Cincinnati for treatment and final costs are expected to exceed $600,000.

“Greta was a spunky, adorable little girl dressed in a bat girl costume. I didn't know your story then, but as I quietly waited to see if my baby would need another heart surgery, watching Greta helped distract me from the anxiety racing through me,” a donor wrote on the Marofke’s GoFundMe page Wednesday.

“She helped in that moment, if only in a small way, and she didn't even talk to me – but her beauty and spunk just radiated from her.”

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