Santorum Says Disabled Daughter Bella’s Condition Improving

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Jan 30, 2012   |   11:17AM    Washington, DC

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said late Sunday that the medical condition that forced the Santorum family to hospitalize the little girl over the weekend has dramatically improved.

Santorum had canceled some of his Florida campaign events to be with his sick daughter, Bella, who has Edwards Syndrome or Trisomy 18, a chromosomal condition which results in stillbirth 50 percent of the time. Bella was admitted to the hospital Saturday night because she has pneumonia in both of her lungs, according to campaign aides. The little girl is not on a ventilator. The family has medical equipment they use for their daughter and normally try to keep her out of the hospital if possible due to potential infections.

Although Bella was frequently hospitalized during the first year of her life, her family has been able to care for her at home apart from needed surgeries and she has not spent any significant time in the hospital until now.

“A simple cold can kill her, and it almost did this weekend. She ended up with pneumonia and a cold,” Santorum told Glenn Beck on his radio show Monday. “But she was able to get great care and yesterday really made a great turn around and she will be out of the ICU today and so we are getting back to normal here.”

“She had a very tough go of it, but yesterday afternoon she rallied, and she’s on the mend,” he said. “We are feeling very, very blessed, I just want to thank everybody for their prayers.”

On Sunday night, Santorum told Florida voters on a tele town hall that Bella is doing better and that his family expects her to be released in a matter of days.

“Life for the Santorum family has improved dramatically since this afternoon,” he said. “We’ve still got a long way to go, but she’s without a doubt turned a corner.”

“She’s got a mask on because she needs help breathing, but she’s smiling through it,” Santorum said, adding that it was a blessing his daughter got sick at home rather than while she was with him on the campaign trail. “It’s a miracle in some respects.”

“She’s had a miraculous turnaround,” Santorum said. “We have a long way to go, but she turned the corner and we are very, very grateful.”

“It was a very, very tough night last night,” he said of the ordeal, adding that the family took Bella to a District of Columbia area hospital instead of Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia where she normally receives care.

“She has been on some great treatment here,” he added. “She’s just doing great.”

He told callers the campaign is resuming, saying, “We’re going to get back on the campaign trail probably later tomorrow” and his campaign released to LifeNews an itinerary showing he will indeed campaign in the coming battleground states of Minnesota and Missouri. “I feel very, very good about where we are and where this campaign is going.”

Jim Geraghty of National Review, a conservative publication, wonders if some Florida voters heading to the polls Tuesday will support Santorum because of Bella.

“With Bella Santorum on the mend, and her father Rick returning to the campaign trail (although not to Florida, but to Missouri and Minnesota), perhaps it is safe to wonder whether the drama of the Santorum family’s sudden scare will have any late impact on Tuesday’s results,” he wrote. “Santorum has been a distant third or fourth in the recent Florida polls, finishing with 11 to 16 percent. But I have yet to encounter anyone who thinks worse of a man who suspends his campaign and rushes to his home state to be with his hospitalized daughter. Quite a few folks across the spectrum are saluting Santorum for demonstrating that he’s a man who knows what matters most to him.”

“irst Santorum had an above-the-fray, winning performance in Thursday’s debate, and this weekend he demonstrates he’s a man who puts his family first. He needed a way to break through the back-and-forth between Romney and Gingrich in the final days, and this event, tragic and terrifying as it was, probably did that,” Geraghty writes.

Karen Santorum, wife of Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, recently talked with voters about the eugenic push for abortions on babies who are diagnosed with certain disabilities before birth.

“But it is interesting how they categorize certain diagnosis. And what we got alot — which it sounds like you did – was ‘lethal diagnosis incompatible with life.’ They really have to stop using those words. Because when they do it leads to lethal outcomes. And we have found that,” she told the voter. “I’m really on a mission now to really help change the wording and how they present the diagnoses to parents.”

Santorum talks about her daughter Bella, who has Edwards Syndrome, later in the video.

“We got the diagnosis on our little girl Bella four days after her birth. It was a really hard time. You know, we weren’t expecting it and so it was really hard,” she says. “We had lost a baby so that’s all I can think about was ‘I can’t go through this again.’ i was very angry and went into a deep dark hole for 10 days when she was the in the NICU, I must admit,” Santorum continues. “I was never going to leave my faith, I love the Lord, I was praying and I kept asking why. I couldn’t understand.”

Eventually she said she came to realize that “God is in child and this beautiful child is here for a purpose.”

“We said right from the get go that Bella was a part of her family and we would love her and care for her” in the same way she and Rick care for their other children. “You know the pain and what a challenge it can be, but we’re a very close family and we came together.”

Rick Santorum previously talked about his daughter in a campaign commercial released before the Iowa caucus vote.

“During the last debate I mentioned how I was looking forward to taking the red-eye home to see my three year old daughter Bella, who had surgery earlier that day,” the Republican presidential candidate said. “Following that debate, Karen and I got numerous emails and calls from supporters asking how she was doing.  We were so touched by the tremendous outpouring of support, the thoughts and the prayers we received for our sweet Bella.”

“She is doing great and back to her joyful, smiley self.  But since so many people were concerned, we wanted to share a little bit more about Bella and the great blessing she is for our entire family,” he said. “We hope you’ll enjoy this video.”

Santorum recently talked about Bella in a speech at a Pennsylvania pro-life event. Santorum recalled the crisis of faith he experienced when his wife Karen went to get an ultrasound of their unborn baby Gabriel.

The doctor told the couple, “Your son has a fatal defect and is going to die.” But Gabriel was born alive. As Santorum recalls, “For two hours he lived a life that knew only love.”

The couple’s heartbreaking experience with infant loss became the subject of Karen’s book, Letters to Gabriel, which has helped countless mothers deal with the deaths of their newborn babies.

Santorum faced another crisis when his daughter, Bella, was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a chromosomal condition which results in stillbirth 50 percent of the time. At first, Santorum was emotionally detached from his disabled daughter but, when she faced her own battle for life, he suddenly realized, “This child…can do nothing but love me.”

Santorum observed, “That’s me with the (Heavenly) Father—I am so profoundly disabled in His eyes.”

Against all odds, little Bella recently celebrated her 182nd week of life. According to Santorum, the one-year survival rate for Trisomy 18 is 1 percent.

As Santorum told the Pennsylvania crowd of 500 pro-lifers, “These children have so much to teach us.”