In a heartwarming turn of events, Bella Thomson, affectionately known as "Bella Brave," has successfully undergone a life-saving bowel transplant after spending three years on the transplant list.
The nine-year-old from Swift Current, who has been battling a rare bowel disease called Hirschsprung’s disease, finally received the call that will change her life forever.
Bella's mother, Kyla Thomson, said that Bella was enjoying her lunch like any other day when she received the life-altering call.
“Bella was very happy because she knows what this bowel transplant does for her,” she explained. “I got the call, and she was having lunch, she didn't think anything of it until I got off the phone and I said, ‘Guess what?’ she said, ‘I got the call?’ and I said ‘Yeah.’ Then she squealed with joy and told me to call Dad.”
The surgery, performed at an undisclosed date and time to honour the donor family's privacy, took a little less than eight hours.
“They prepare you for the worst,” Thomson explained. “They had said the surgery could take anywhere from 10 to 20 hours and it only took barely eight. So, the first call came from the surgeon, we were like, ‘Oh, no, we weren't supposed to hear from him for a while yet, what's wrong?’ It turned out to be the best-case scenario, and she was headed to recovery, and surgery was successful.”
Bella's journey to this surgery was a challenging one. With her condition worsening over time, Bella spent three years waiting for a suitable donor.
The uncertainty of the situation weighed heavily on the family.
“We were unfortunately having to discuss her future in a real grim way,” she shared. “It's a life-saving transplant for her, so we are happy to be on the other side of that discussion.”
Bella's recovery is expected to be a gradual process, involving various stages to ensure her health and well-being while keeping a close eye out for rejection of any form. The process could take anywhere from three months to a year.
“She's really, really, really, well,” stated Thomson. “Everything for her is going really smooth and just a lot better than expected. Her physicians are really happy with her, and she is doing really good. She's happy to get out of her room and get in some walks in a wheelchair outside of her room and her spirits are just lifting a little bit every day.”
Currently, Bella is slowly being weaned off IV nutrition, and will gradually be able to consume food orally.
She has also started physiotherapy to begin rebuilding her strength to walk and stand again after the extensive abdominal surgery.
Despite the challenges, the nine-year-old's resilience and positive outlook remain strong and she is looking forward to life after recovery.
“She has been hoping for this so much, because the bowel transplant, she understands fully that it saves her life, and it gives her life without the pain that her Hirschsprung’s disease brought to her with her old bowels, but she also recognizes that this means a lot less restrictions for her in terms of what she can eat and when,” the full-time medical mom elaborated. “Now it'll be like most people, where we can eat anything without the worry of it causing a blockage, causing pain or causing issues, because now she has fully-functioning normal bowel.”
Thomson added that she has felt the love and support of the Swift Current community during this time.
“We feel the love and support from our Swift Current family the most,” she stated. “Saskatchewan in general, but definitely Swift Current. We are feeling so loved by everyone and reading messages and hearing people rooting for her from back home, we just want everyone to know we see it and we are so thankful for that.”
As Bella continues on her path to recovery, her infectious optimism serves as an inspiration of bravery, hope, and determination for all who have been touched by her journey.