Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum holds his daughter Bella… (Gene J. Puskar / Associated…)
Rick Santorum’s youngest daughter, Bella, who suffers from a severe genetic disorder, has been hospitalized, the presidential candidate’s campaign announced Friday.
"Rick and his wife Karen have taken their daughter Bella to the hospital. The family requests prayers and privacy as Bella works her way to recovery," spokesman Hogan Gidley said.
Bella was born in 2008 with Trisomy 18, a rare defect in which a baby has an extra chromosome that results in abnormal development of the brain and major organs. Only one in 10 babies born with the disorder survive the first year of life.
Santorum was celebrating the Easter holiday weekend with his family in Virginia when Bella, 3, was taken to the hospital. Earlier this year, Bella was hospitalized with pneumonia, prompting Santorum to leave the campaign trail before the Florida primary.
Santorum frequently mentions his daughter while speaking to voters. On Wednesday, he thanked supporters for their prayers for Bella, who requires round-the-clock medical care.
“She is doing just great and she sends her best to everybody here,” Santorum told a few hundred people at a rally in Hollidaysburg, Pa., standing alongside his six other children and his wife Karen.
Karen Santorum has said that the media misstates the severity of her daughter’s condition.
"It's funny, reading articles when people actually write about my little girl and they really aren't accurate at all, what they're saying. People have said that she has a terminal illness and she doesn't,” she said on CNN earlier this year. “Her life is fragile but Bella's doing great, she's strong, she's healthy right now and I thank God for that."