Santorum's daughter recovering from pneumonia

Elizabeth Santorum at Sarasota, Fla., airport discussing her father's visit to a hospital to be with her 3-year-old sister, Bella.
Elizabeth Santorum at Sarasota, Fla., airport discussing her father's visit to a hospital to be with her 3-year-old sister, Bella. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: January 30, 2012

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL candidate Rick Santorum said yesterday that his daughter, Bella, remained in the hospital with pneumonia but was recovering after a rough 36 hours.

Santorum spoke with Florida supporters by telephone from 3-year-old Bella's room and said he hopes that she can go home in the next few days.

She was in a local hospital in Virginia, according to the candidate, correcting his campaign's announcement that she was admitted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on Saturday, according to ABC News.

She was "too fragile" to travel from the family's Virginia home to Philadelphia, Santorum reportedly said.

Bella (full name Isabella) has Trisomy 18, a genetic condition caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 18th chromosome. Santorum has said his daughter was not expected to survive her first birthday.

Santorum said during the phone call that Bella is awake and alert and back to being a "beautiful, happy girl."

Santorum, who trails Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in Florida, canceled his appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" and a stop at a Miami church yesterday to be with Bella. His daughter, Elizabeth, 20, spoke for him in Florida at campaign stops in Sarasota and Punta Gorda.

The state's crucial winner-take-all primary is Tuesday.

After a rally in an airplane hangar in Sarasota, Elizabeth, the eldest of Santorum's seven children, briefly told reporters that Bella "got sick and right now she's in the hospital and we're hoping and praying she will be better soon."

Elizabeth Santorum said her father would be back in Florida "as soon as he can, and right now family comes first, being a dad and being a husband right now, so that's why he's home."

She was joined in Florida yesterday by members of the Duggar family - parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, and their five eldest children, Joshua, Jana, John-David, Jill and Jessa - stars of the TLC reality show, "19 Kids & Counting."

The Duggars, of Arkansas, like Santorum, hold strong Christian values and are anti-abortion. They have also stumped for Santorum in Iowa and South Carolina.

Before winning the Iowa caucus, Santorum told Christian conservatives in that state about his youngest child: "I have a little girl who's 3-1/2 years old. I don't know whether her life is going to be measured - it's always been measured - in days and weeks."

When voters asked him about Bella, he called the decision to campaign "gut-retching," but said he continued forward for all special-needs families.

In an interview with the Washington Post last year, he said: "You think she's fine, and then one cold and she's this close to dying."

- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

|
|
|
|
|