Strangers in US Help ‘gravely ill’ Teenager to Return to Australia


Phelicity Sneesby, a 13-year-old girl suffering from a congenital heart defect, has received overwhelming financial support from complete strangers to return to Australia from the US. Her parents launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise US$150,000 (AU$211,720) to arrange a medical flight back home. The campaign has already raised more than US$200,000 (AU$283,000) for Phelicity.

Qantas has also come forward to help the teenager from Ballina fly back home safely. Talks are ongoing with medical experts and others about the arrangements.

Ben Sneesby, the father of Phelicity, said that the support the family received as a result of the online campaign was “unbelievable.”

“I haven’t seen her smile this much for a long time,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.

The 9 News reported that Phelicity had to travel between NSW and the US frequently to receive treatment for her illness. She suffers from a congenital heart defect and a related condition that destroys the stocks of protein in her body as well as affects her immune system. This condition is leading Phelicity slowly towards her death.

Faced with financial difficulties, her parents, Ben and Veronica, started the crowd-funding to raise the money required for the medical flight.

Phelicity is expected to be home by February 14, which is also the International Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day. She has been in an intensive care unit of an Ohio hospital for the past two months following a life-saving operation.

Ben returned to Ballina with her siblings in December after the treatment turned out to be unsuccessful. Phelicity remained in Ohio with her mother at Nationwide’s Children Hospital. The teenager, however, longed to be back home and spend time with her family.

“She is so excited that she’s coming home,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Ben as Sying said. “And, who knows, this just might be enough to help her heal a little bit. You just don’t know. When our minds start to heal maybe our bodies can a little as well. I know the odds are stacked against her but we will fight for her as long as she fights.”

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