Bella’s Story

In her short nine years, Bella Padilla has been through more than most people will have to endure in a lifetime. Born at 33 weeks, Bella only weighed three pounds at birth. She has Cerebral Palsy, Cortical Vision Impairment, global development delays and a rare genetic disorder called Xia-Gibbs syndrome. Bella has also had a double osteotomy surgery, tendon lengthening surgery on both legs and tendon transferring surgery on both feet.

Since birth, Bella has had more than 300 inpatient hospital stays and has had 42 surgeries, including a nine hour spinal road lengthening surgery which she had on October 4, 2016. But no matter what, Bella always has a smile on her face. Whether she’s playing adaptive baseball, cheering on the Red Sox or participating as a contestant in the Miss Inspirational Pageant, Bella has a way of making everyone around her smile.

Bella Collage

Bella has been visiting Franciscan Children’s on an outpatient basis for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy since she was only two years old. But recently, Bella experienced what it was like to be at Franciscan as an inpatient.

In March 2015 Bella had her 39th medical surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. During the nine hour surgery, Bella experienced numerous complications and needed a blood transfusion. This coupled with the complications from her surgery, lead to an unexpected lengthy inpatient stay at Boston Children’s. What was initially supposed to be a one week stay there turned into a two week stay which was then followed by a three week inpatient stay at Franciscan’s Children’s for orthopedic rehabilitation.

Although Bella had been an outpatient at Franciscan for years, she and her mother Marlene didn’t know what to expect as they prepared for Bella’s first inpatient stay at Franciscan.  But the caring Franciscan staff did everything possible to make Bella and Marlene feel at home.

“The Franciscan staff welcomed us with open arms and created a home away from home for us.”

“The Franciscan staff welcomed us with open arms and created a home away from home for us,” recalls Marlene. “From the doctors, nurses, CA’s and the amazing child life specialists, Bella and I felt comfortable right from the beginning. I can’t thank them enough for their hard work and dedication!”

Throughout Bella’s stay at Franciscan Children’s she worked on putting weight on her legs, standing and walking. Although Bella’s rehabilitation was difficult at times, her hard work and dedication now allows her to walk short distances without her wheelchair while still using it to travel longer ones, and she is even working on advanced movements in her physical therapy sessions like going up and down stairs.

Bella Baseball

Bella’s progress is amazing to see! She continues to thrive in school, in her community and at Franciscan Children’s and she is a true inspiration to everyone around her.

Want to share your story? Send it our way to stories@FranciscanChildrens.org.

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