Bella’s Mission to Help Other Kids like Her with Chronic Pancreatitis
Most every kid deals with a fear of monsters at some point. Monsters under the bed or in the closet. Monsters in movies or books that later make a special guest appearance in their dreams.
As a carefree 12-year-old, Bella was old enough to know that she didn’t have to worry about imaginary monsters. Almost a teenager, she was focused on what most kids her age think about: friends, family and school.
But after more than a year-long struggle with chronic pancreatitis—Bella knows that monsters can indeed be real—and while they may be scary at first, they might just save your life.
Finding the Best Care Possible
As Bella’s painful episodes increased, her parents searched for and consulted with many pancreas experts in hopes of finding answers for their daughter. Their journey eventually led them to our specialized Pancreas Care Center team.
Bella and her family made several visits to Cincinnati Children’s from their home in Miami, FL. Her diagnosis changed from acute to chronic pancreatitis. Bella's expert care team knew that surgery was her best option. But it wasn’t going to be an easy road for her.
The surgery, known as a pancreatectomy and islet cell autotransplantaion (TPIAT), is only used in rare and severe cases. It involves removing the entire pancreas and reconstructing the gastrointestinal tract. After the pancreas is removed, it’s taken to a lab where the islet cells (which are responsible for producing insulin and other hormones) are extracted and then transplanted into the patient’s body, where they continue to perform essential functions of the pancreas.
“I had to undergo multiple procedures in just a month and a half in order to prepare,” Bella says. “On the day of the surgery, I looked at my parents as they wheeled me away and said to them, ‘I'm ready for the dance.’”
After a 12-hour procedure, Bella woke up with a new dance partner, fondly nicknamed the “MONSTER” by those in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).