Bella Tucker, an 8-year-old gymnast on the Phantom Gymnastics team in Hampstead, N.H., needs your help. She came down with a near fatal infection of Streptococcus Pneumonia Sepsis with DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation) on Easter Sunday. Doctors gave little hope for this third grader’s survival, but after five days in a coma, she miraculously survived. Unfortunately, the infection caused extensive tissue damage, and on April 27, 2010, Bella underwent quadruple amputation surgery and is currently facing an extremely long and hard recovery at Children’s Hospital in Boston with extensive rehabilitation to follow as she learns to live life without her limbs.
Phantom Gymnastics has already raised $12,000 to help the family with expenses, modifying the home and having a parent with her at all times during the rehabilitation process will be costly, and your donation will help ease the financial burden. If you’d like to donate to the Bella Tucker Fund, go to BellaTucker.org or FriendsOfBella.org..
Donations can also be sent to Phantom Gymnastics, with checks made out to "Bella Tucker Fund" PO Box 986 Hampstead, NH 03841.
Bella’s story is told below.
By Rita Savard, Lowell Sun – Posted with permission.
CHELMSFORD, N.H. — Within 24 hours, 8-year-old Bella Tucker went from a carefree family Easter egg hunt in Chelmsford to fighting for her life in the emergency room at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Doctors said she had contracted a rare form of bacterial pneumonia, with a survival rate of about 10 percent. After five days of a medically induced coma, Bella pulled through. But not without a significant change to her body.
Because of extensive tissue damage to her limbs, Bella underwent quadruple amputation surgery. When she awoke, she discovered that doctors had amputated her right arm to her elbow, her left arm to her mid-biceps, and both legs.
As the blue-ribbon gymnast adjusts to her new body, her family said Bella is teaching them the true meaning of determination.
Her name means "beautiful."
When she came into the world on Aug. 12, 2001, it was truly a gift for her dad, Richard Tucker.
The father and daughter share the same birthday.
Bella’s aunt, Barbara MacGillvary, describes her niece as an angel with an edge.
"She’s a please and thank-you kind of girl, but don’t try to cut her in line," MacGillvary says. "She won’t have it."
A combination of sassy and sweet, Bella is equally at home building forts in the backyard with her brothers as she is painting her nails with her little sister, Lola.
Her love of gymnastics is wallpapered on the walls of her bedroom, where blue ribbons hang — awards earned from competitions with her friends at Phantom Gymnastics in Londonderry, N.H.
She was great at floor routines, MacGillvary says. Tumbles, flips and cartwheels. She was a spark of energy. Just like an 8-year-old should be.
Then on April 4, Easter Sunday, Bella’s energy began dwindling fast.
The day was warm and sunny. But Bella told her dad she was feeling cold.
"I brought her in the house and put a blanket over her," Tucker says. "But she wanted another one. When I put another blanket over her, she asked for another one."
The local walk-in clinic was closed on the holiday. Bella didn’t want to go to the hospital. Her fever was low, about 99 degrees, and just a week earlier, her cousin had strep throat.
"She was healthy, and even healthy kids can catch the flu," MacGillvary says. "It didn’t seem like anything to worry about."
Tucker, who has his daughter every weekend, brought Bella home to her mom’s house in Londonderry that night. When Tucker left, Bella fell asleep.
About 5:30 a.m., her stepfather went to check on her and found her hands and feet were ice-cold. He rushed her to the local hospital in Derry, where doctors said she needed to be transferred to Boston Children’s.
When they heard she had to go by helicopter, Bella’s family knew they weren’t dealing with the flu.
A team of specialists swarmed Bella in Boston.
By the time Tucker arrived, he saw his little girl was "purple" from head to toe. What doctors first thought was meningitis was later diagnosed as streptococcus pneumoniae sepsis — a rare form of pneumonia that stopped the flow of oxygen to her arms and legs.
Doctors still can’t say how Bella contracted it.
"The scary thing is, it can happen to any child," Tucker says.
But Bella asked her daddy: Why it was happening to me?
"I’m not going to be able to do all the things I love to do," she told her dad.
These are the moments in life that never make sense, Tucker says, no matter how many times you go over it in your head. But he told Bella, "God knew you were the strongest and that you could handle it."
She has had five surgeries and will have three more. Before every one, she gives her dad a kiss and a smile.
"She’s the bravest person I know," Tucker says.
Bella hasn’t breathed another word about things she can no longer do.
Says MacGillvary, "She pretty much has an attitude of ‘Don’t tell me what I can’t do, show me what I can do.’"
On Thursday, she was sending her mom a text message with her nose. She’s eager to get out of the hospital and go back to her life.
Her dad and her aunt say they won’t be surprised to see Bella winning more ribbons someday and defying the odds.
Because that’s Bella. And her name means "beautiful."
"There’s no limit to what she can do," Tucker says. "She’s keeping us strong."
Over the next several weeks, Enterprise Bank on Littleton Road in Chelmsford will showcase "Baskets for Bella." To help her family pay for medical expenses, a benefit concert will be held for Bella on Friday, June 4, at the Bunting Club, 449 Boylston St., Lowell. Donations can also be made to Friends of Bella, c/o Enterprise Bank, 185 Littleton Road, Chelmsford, 01824.
For more information about Bella and to follow her progress and learn about future fundraising events, visit www.friendsofbella.org.