N.H. third-grader is the face of hope and determination

(NECN: Lauren Collins, Manchester, NH) - This is a story of hope and determination -- in the face of incredible odds. 


A New Hampshire third-grader, who lost all of her limbs to a devastating infection, is moving to a rehabilitation center this week.

Bella Tucker on NECNBella Tucker has undergone seven surgeries -- all in just a matter of weeks. And, as the cost of her medical bills spiral, an entire community is rallying behind her family.



Bella isn't like any other name.

"She hears it every day," says Selena Roarty of her daughter.  "'Do you know what your name means?' and she says, 'yes, beautiful.'"

Bella Tucker isn't like any other 8-year-old.

"She's a strong, strong little girl," says her mom.  

That trait is an enormous asset for the bright third grader who fell sick Easter Sunday with an infection that usually runs a quick course - streptcoccus pneumonia

"It typically causes ear infections or sinus infections, sometimes it gets as bad as to cause pneumonia but in is most serious forms it can cause blood stream infection or sepsis," which is what happened in Bella's case according to one of her doctors, Dr. Monica Kleinman, M.D.

Roarty notes, "many children have died from this bacteria that was in her blood."

Bella's body fought off the worst, but the infection killed the tissue in her limbs.  Doctors had to amputate her legs and most of her arms in late April.  

Bella checked out of Children's Thursday but it'll be a while before she gets home.  She's now at Spaulding Rehab in Boston and will head to Philadelphia next.

She'll learn how to use her prosthetics at Shriner's Hospital.  Her family hopes to welcome her home with a party in the fall.  In the meantime, bella's mom and step dad are on leave from their jobs at Jet Blue and have to retrofit their house.

"People that know them help out in other ways, people that don't know them just want to give money so that they can make a difference," says Linda Boyd, Bella's principal at South School in Londonderry.  

Family friends and Bella's elementary school have taken the lead in a massive drive to help defray the costs of her long term care - $26 thousand so far.  There are also raffles, walk-a-thons, and a yet to be unveiled effort by jet blue.

"Our whole community of Londonderry, New Hampshire has just been absolutely amazing and we have tried so many times just to express how grateful we are," says Roarty.

All gestures that help put a smile on this brave little face - though she's far more excited to get a letter or a visit from her classmates

"They just want her back," says Boyd.

Her mom says Bella is eager to get back to school, and jump back into her energetic life, un-phased by her setback.


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