Santorum Cancels Campaign Events to Be With Sick Daughter

Politics   Steven Ertelt   Jan 29, 2012   |   4:09PM    Washington, DC

Rick Santorum has 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 Santorum was admitted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia 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 late last night.

“Rick and his wife Karen are admitting their daughter Bella to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this evening,” spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement Saturday night, according to AP. Rick intends to return to Florida and resume the campaign schedule as soon as is possible.”

Santorum reportedly canceled Sunday morning campaign events but did not cancel those set for tonight.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, on Sunday afternoon, tweeted a message of support for the Santorum family.

“Thank you, Rick and Karen Santorum, for living the Christ-like example of sacrifice and right priorities. Nothing is more precious or important than the life of an innocent child. Our prayers are with Bella, a perfect child in an imperfect world,” she said.  “God bless the beautiful Santorum family.”

UPDATE:  Santorum’s daughter is reportedly “improving,” according to a CBS News:

Santorum will return to the campaign trail “as soon as he can,” his oldest daughter Elizabeth told reporters Sunday. But over the weekend he remained with his youngest daughter Isabella, 3, who was admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Saturday night with pneumonia in both lungs. Elizabeth Santorum said the candidate “wishes he could be here,” but that he is “exercising his most important role, which is being a dad. So that’s why he’s home.”

A local GOP leader led the crowd of about 250 in a moment of silence for Bella. Elizabeth – joining the Duggar Family from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting” – said at the end of the event that the Santorums expected rough patches in the campaign process.

“I think back on the many nights around our kitchen table,” she said. “We knew from the very beginning that this would not be easy; this was not the easiest course for our family . . . but we knew that this would be worth it, because America is worth it.”

Talking briefly with reporters after the rally, Elizabeth said of her father’s decision to stay home, “You know, we do what we do as a family; we stick together. And we get through, and we’re hanging in there.”

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.”