PELICAN RAPIDS, Min. -- A 16-year-old girl from Pelican Rapids is fighting for her life in a hospital in Minnesota. WDAY news reporter Alyssa Kelly tells us why she's not fighting alone.
They call her the Red-Headed Warrior "She is this spitfire redhead that just totally fills up the room with love and joy when she walks in," says sister Haley Westby. Faith Westby was born with Kabuki syndrome, a rare disorder that affects multiple parts of the body.
Doctors didn't think she'd live longer than 3 years. But her mom named her Faith and now she's 16 and still fighting. In early 2017 she was diagnosed with Liver Cancer and received a transplant that summer, but her body rejected the liver 5 times.
A treatment for the rejection depleted her immune system. As a result, she got a fungal infection in her blood stream. "I don't know if I'm gonna wake up and have a sister the next day," Haley says. She says January fifth was an especially hard day for her and her family.
She was about to go snowmobiling with her dad at home when her mom called and told her the news. "My mom said you need to get down here as soon as you possibly can," Haley says. The infection had spread to Faith's lungs and brain. She needed immediate surgery, and again, doctors didn't think Faith would live.
"I didn't know what to feel, I don't want my sister to be in pain and I don't want her to have to struggle and so I just knew that God would be able to make that decision for her and she would be able to make that decision for her," Haley says. But against all odds, Faith pulled through. "It was crazy awesome very uplifting," Haley says.
She was on a ventilator for 11 days before they started to slowly wean her off. She had a tracheotomy to help her breathe last week. "Just what my sister has done in these last couple weeks makes me feel like anything is possible," says Haley.
The lakes area community has banded together in support, wearing purple and the hashtag #FaithOverFear. The Valkyries dance team in pelican rapids dedicated their varsity jazz routine to their favorite redhead, as they danced to the song.
"I can't even put into words how amazing it is. I never thought that you know a community could give so much support," says Haley. Doctors say faith has a 10% chance of making it, but her sister knows in her heart they couldn't be more wrong
"This isn't the end of our story and I know that she'll make it through," Haley says. With a little hope and a lot of faith, on the long road to recovery. T-shirts were sold in the community to help raise $4,700 for the Westby family with more fundraisers still ongoing. And Faith received good news this last week. She had an MRI on Thursday that showed the mass on her brain shrunk significantly.