Fibular hemimelia: Bella's story

May 4, 2010 at 8:48 p.m. ET

Take one look at 7-year-old Bella and the first thing you'll notice is her vibrant red hair. Her personality is just as vibrant. Bella is an outgoing child with an artistic flair and active imagination. She's also wise beyond her years, the result of a lifetime of medical challenges.

BellaBella was born with fibular hemimelia, meaning she has no fibula bone in her left leg. She has just four toes and her left foot and knee weren't formed correctly. Without treatment, Bella's left leg would grow to only half the length of her right. Her family faced two options: amputate the affected leg in preparation for a prosthetic, or lengthen the leg through a series of treatments and surgeries. They chose the second option, and thus began Bella's relationship with the caregivers at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare.

Bella understands she's different, but also understands there are others who face even greater challenges. This is what makes her so understanding and accepting. She was taught never to stare at others who may look different but instead to ask questions. This has led to open dialogue and questions about her differences, questions she easily answers. Whatever comes her way, Bella is determined to triumph over her disability and live a happy, imaginative life.


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