Rick Santorum’s Miracle Daughter Bella, Who Has Trisomy 18, Defies the Odds, Turns 7

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 14, 2015   |   4:28PM   |   Washington, DC

Former Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s miracle daughter Bella has Edwards Syndrome or Trisomy 18, a chromosomal condition which results in stillbirth 50 percent of the time. She definitely wasn’t expected to live this long, but the little fighter has survived and turns 7 years old today.

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. That doesn’t mean life is easy.

“A simple cold can kill her,” Santorum has said, recalling her birth.

“The news from doctors was bleak, and the odds were stacked against Bella. Of the 10% of babies with Trisomy 18 who survive birth, 90% won’t make it to their first birthday. Ten days after her birth, we brought Bella home, and doctors prepared us for how she was going to die. Frankly, this made us angry; Karen and I were not going to just let Bella go, we were going to fight to give her the opportunity and the chance to do as well as she could. We did just that. We celebrated her life every day, and took nothing for granted, rejoicing in every day we had with her. And since those early, difficult days, an amazing thing has happened: Bella has defied all of the odds. Now, Bella is a ray of sunshine at the center of our family’s universe, every day inspiring our family with her joyful spirit.”

In a book he wrote, Rick admits that until Bella was five months old he was convinced that she was going to die and thought the best thing he could do was to treat her differently and not love her as he had his six older children. He believed that it wouldn’t hurt as much to lose her if he had his guard up. However, since then he’s realized that was wrong.

He said, “I remember holding that finger, looking at her and realizing what I had done. I had seen her as less of a person.”

Unbelievably, now Bella is seven and Rick and Karen share these thoughts at National Review online:

“Bella  makes life in the Santorum home an experience of love, hope and beauty  in a way that we could never have imagined. She has also touched many  other lives, helping people focus on what really matters most: love”.

“Bella  teaches us about love’s invitation to always say yes on a daily basis.  Bella makes life in the Santorum home an experience of love, hope and  beauty in a way that we could never have imagined. Through Bella we are  learning how to love and finding the kind of hope which never  disappoints and shines its light into every area of human life.”

“She  has changed more lives than most of us have or ever will. She has  helped every member of her family — and all who have received her as the  gift she truly is — to make their lives a place of love, hope, and  beauty.”

“So, this little treasure of a girl  who was given little chance to survive outside of the womb, is now the  center of attention in the Santorum home today. The seven candles on the  cake will not generate nearly the light which her smile will. Just as  the great Hebrew prophet Isiah promises, “a little child shall lead  them,” Bella points the way.”

“… for today, we invite you to join us and our children in wishing Bella Santorum a  happy birthday. In an age which has such a deep need for beauty, we have  been given beauty in this little girl we are so happy to have, to hug,  and to love.  We offer Bella to all of you. So many people, when they  encounter her, are left without words. There is good reason. Words alone  can never capture the real meaning of life and communicate the power of  love. Bella Santorum turns seven and points the way to beauty.”

Karen Santorum has frequently talked 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 has said “I’m really on a mission now to really help change the wording and how they present the diagnoses to parents.”



“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.”