Strangers raise $200k to bring girl with heart defect home
A BALLINA girl born with a congenital heart defect can return home on a special medical flight from the United States after an online campaign raised more than $200,000 for her ticket.
Phelicity Sneesby's heart defect was so complex she had to travel to Columbus, Ohio for specialist treatment.
The operation proved unsuccessful and the 13-year-old's condition worsened while overseas.
Her mother Veronica was forced to take several months off work to be by her side in the cardiac intensive care unit.
Her father Ben returned home to Ballina so he could work to keep the family financially afloat.
Phelicity's condition became so serious she was unable to travel commercially and could only return home to Australia if her family could raise about $150,000 to charter a medical flight.
Family friend Megan Latham set up a Gofundme.com fundraising account which has already broken the target and secured more than $200,000 for the family.
"My hope for this campaign is to raise enough funds to get this sweet girl home to her family, and at a minimum raise enough so Ben can take off work again and return to Ohio with Phelicity's three sisters, so that however many days she has left, can be spent with her immediate family," Ms Latham wrote.
She said the family was overjoyed Phelicity's wish to return home would be realised.
"Phelicity and her family are so very grateful for everyone's amazing support," she said.
"Mum met with her doctors today and they are working on co-ordinating the flight home and adjusting her medications to get her stable enough to tolerate the flight.
"Unfortunately since she is critically ill, this won't happen overnight.
"But it will happen now and soon, all because of you.
"Every dollar raised will go towards any past or future expenses acquired for caring for Phelicity.
"We will never be able to say thank you enough!"
Phelicity's mother, Veronica, also posted a heartfelt message of thanks.
"You are all making me cry right now... thank you," she wrote.
More than 3600 people from across the world donated to the campaign in just five days.