A nine-year-old girl from Baie-Sainte-Anne, N.B., has a long recovery ahead of her after a rare type of bacteria forced doctors to amputate portions of her arms and legs.
Alyssa Sippley was always an energetic little girl who could talk for hours and loved to play games, according to her sister, Caitlin Sippley.
In November, Alyssa began to feel sick. Her family initially thought she had a stomach flu.
The illness turned out to be type-A strep throat, a rare strain of bacteria, and within days it led to septic shock, which caused blood to clot in her limbs.
Alyssa was sent immediately to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax for treatment.
The nine-year-old girl recently had both her arms amputated from the elbow, one leg amputated completely and the other was amputated from below the knee.
Alyssa's parents have been with her in the hospital since she became ill.
Yves Sippley, Alyssa’s father, said the family will be spending Christmas with her at the IWK, where she still has a long recovery ahead of her.
'Scared to death'
Sippley says it has been nearly two months since their daughter got sick, and they are still in shock.
“You can imagine, you know, she is our world, we were scared to death,” he said.
“We're still greatly concerned, I mean, she's not completely out of the woods yet.”
While Alyssa is now recovering, her father describes the first few weeks in the Halifax hospital as "a nightmare."
Caitlin Sippley, 17, says her sister’s condition was looking scary at first.
'I think every house in Baie-Sainte-Anne had a candle lit for Alyssa.' - Kayla Mercure, neighbour
“We honestly thought that we would’ve lost her because she had a five per cent chance to live,” she said.
“But she had a blood transfusion and ever since then she's been healing. She’s a little more aware now, she knows she got operated on and she knows that she lost what she did.”
Caitlin described Alyssa as "the most energetic, stubborn little nine-year-old I have ever seen."
Alyssa has worn hearing aids for many years, but her older sister said nothing would slow her down.
"She has quite the character and everybody always loved her uniqueness," Caitlin wrote on the fundraising page set up for her sister, at gofundme.com.
The family has received support from around the world.
And while the family is in Halifax, Alyssa's small community in eastern New Brunswick is rallying behind her.
Family overwhelmed by generosity
Kayla Mercure, a neighbour and a cousin to the Sippley family, said the whole community is relieved Alyssa's condition is finally beginning to improve.
“I think every house in Baie-Sainte-Anne had a candle lit for Alyssa,” Mercure said.
Her father said he's been overwhelmed by the generosity since his daughter became ill.
"It’s had me in tears many times because you just don’t expect this amount of prayers and support. You really don’t," he said.
"It’s really helped us as well through all of this. We just hope to God that we get through all of this. I think she will because she has such a strong will to live."