Hello amazing Yelpers, generous sponsors and 2011 Singles Auction Attendees!
I ran into a few of you at yesterday’s Yelp event and most of you were interested in how Baby Bella is doing.
She’s doing well and I wanted to forward along a note (see below) commemorating Bella’s 1st birthday in November. This birthday was an amazing milestone which you’ll understand why after you’ve seen this year in review movie created by her parents.
Thanks again to everyone for their incredible generosity which made this first ever singles auction a HUGE success!
I hope you all have a very happy holiday season and a safe (and very fun) new year!
This is a very special week for Geoff and Jenny Clopton and their daughter Bella. As friends of the family and Bella’s honorary uncles, we are overjoyed to be writing this message to let you know that precious little Bella turned one year old on Wednesday. Thanks to an incredibly selfless liver donor (Jenny’s sister, Jodi), teams of medical experts, a loving family, generous and amazing friends (and even a few strangers) and lots of help from above– Bella is happy and as healthy as possible considering all she’s been through over the past year.
We’ll let Jenny and Geoff update you fully– about Bella’s amazing progress and the health challenges Jodi is still facing– in their message below. Please enjoy these recent pictures of Bella and click here to watch a movie Jenny has put together about Bella’s first year of life. So many of you sacrificed so much– both financially and otherwise–to help this family. Their challenges are far from over. And it’s very likely we’ll have to call on you again for help. But for now, please take heart in the fact that Bella is alive and well on her first birthday, and you played an extremely important part. This family could not have done it without you.
All Our Best,
Len and Tommy
A Message From Jenny, Geoff, and Bella:
Bella turned one on November 16th. I know this is a joyful milestone for all parents, but it is a particularly miraculous one for us. This past year we were told if her liver disease hadn’t been diagnosed – Bella would have died before she was eight months old. And when the pathologist saw her old liver after the transplant, he said there was no way she would have made it to her first birthday with that one. We know this to be true because sadly, this last year we have seen several other babies and children pass away before their life saving gift arrived. So, we don’t take this milestone lightly. We know what a blessing my sister’s life-saving gift was and it’s something we celebrate every day. We feel so lucky and blessed that thanks to her loving Aunt Jodi, Bella is one of the lucky children who was able to make it to her first birthday to celebrate.
Thanks to my amazing sister and her extraordinary gift – Bella is full of joy and embracing life as she turned one. We are told over and over again that she is one of the happiest babies anyone has ever met. She smiles all the time, squeals with delight when she sees people she adores, claps when things excite her and is quick with affection – crawling into our laps to offer hugs and big, sloppy kisses or to hold our hand while we read a book together or play. She is very affectionate with Jodi too. It’s like there’s some sort of liver magnet at work when she crawls near my sister. I sometimes feel it’s as if their livers get close and Bella suddenly feels something and realizes – ‘Oh, this is why my liver is happy now.’ Whenever she’s near Jodi, she crawls up on her, clasping her little baby hands around my sister’s neck and kissing her cheek. It’s amazing and never fails to bring us all to tears.
We’ve learned this last year that Bella loves dogs, music, books and the beach and is a very social girl. She’s almost walking, appears to be on track developmentally and says Mama, Dada – and after a recent doctor’s appointment was frustrating her – ‘all done.’ We’ve also learned this year that Bella loves most nurses and pet therapy, doesn’t like white medical coats or that paper that lines medical tables in doctor’s offices, and is a champ when she has to have her blood drawn every week or two – especially if we let her watch Baby Einstein on her Dad’s iphone while it’s taken. She is still on so many medications we need a list to keep track of them all every day and she is restricted in the contact she’s allowed to have with people this first flu season. But her incision is healing well and we are very hopeful about her medical outlook.
Our greatest sadness now is the price Jodi paid for her gift of life to Bella. Instead of feeling better after three months, as is typical, Jodi continues to deal with gastroparesis – the digestive disorder without a cure – that she developed after the transplant surgery. Essentially her stomach struggles to empty, which has resulted in daily nausea and pain and often overwhelming fatigue. She’s learning to manage it – which is no easy task – and will go to the Mayo Clinic in January for additional care because they specialize in treating the condition. On top of all of this, last month she was in a car accident – hit by a woman who confused the gas pedal and brake. The woman totaled Jodi’s car– but not her spirit. One of the many airbag burns she ended up with peeled in the form of a heart, which delighted her. Despite everything, she continues to try to focus not on the pain, but on love.
Our challenges – medically and financially – for both Bella and Jodi – are far from over. But we made it through this year – thanks in great part to all of you, your love and support. We aren’t having a bunch of people over for a big birthday party for Bella this year because that would be a health concern for her right now. But we hope you will celebrate with us in spirit. If you aren’t already an organ donor, it would be great if, in honor of Bella’s birthday, you’d visit http://donatelife.net/ to register as one. And if you happen to pass a cupcake shop in the next few days, maybe you’ll think of our beautiful Bella, go in, pick a few up, and join us in celebrating just how sweet life really is.
Thank you –
Jenny, Geoff and Bella
See Bella’s Extraordinary First Year Online.
Here’s a video I created online at onetruemedia.com . You don’t need to have an account. If clicking on the link does not work, copy and paste the web address below into your browser’s address field: