The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 1, 2012

Tiny premature infant battles problems

BY CAROL HICKS
Commercial-News

HOOPESTON — There always are difficult moments in life, but few as difficult as coming into the world four months earlier than expected.

Bella Marie Wilburn, daughter of Renee Shipman and Dakota Wilburn, was supposed to arrive as a Christmas present to her parents. Instead, she arrived Sept. 5, four months earlier than the due date, tipping the baby scales at 1 pound, 3 ounces.

"She is really a miracle," Shipman said. "and needs all the prayers she can get."

Shipman added, "Bella is officially 2 pounds now but it’s a rollercoaster since she isn’t feeding; right now they give her nutrition through an IV."

Bella had three blood transfusions shortly after birth due to a low blood count, is on a ventilator and in an incubator.

Six weeks ago, Shipman said, Bella’s belly was swelling and turning black. Tests were run and X-rays taken and a blockage in her intestines was found. Surgery was required to remove the blockage. Bella lost part of her intestine and now has a stoma with a colostomy bag.

A week after the surgery, when Bella began feeding again, another blockage was discovered. Another surgery is planned when she is a little stronger and has gained more weight.

"The surgeon is hoping in the next surgery, they will remove another part of her intestines and hopefully connect the other intestines that are sticking out of her tummy," said Shipman.

In the meantime, Shipman and Wilburn travel to Carle Hospital in Urbana to see their daughter in the Neonatal Care Unit, an expense that is difficult for them. They also must continue to work to help meet their daily expenses.

When Bella comes home — which the family hopes will be by the end of January — she will be able to enjoy two sets of grandparents, Carl and Marlene Shipman and Alan and Nancy Wilburn, all from Hoopeston.

Bella’s journey can be seen at http://www.facebook.com/Steps.for.Bella.

Friends held a bake sale at the Rossville Bank last Friday to help defray some of the travel expenses and are planning a “Steps for Bella” Benefit at the Hoopeston American Legion from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Some of the events will include face painting, games, bake sale, pumpkin carving contest, pie throwing contest (sign up required), lunch, an auction and raffle.

In addition to the events and auction items, T-shirts for Bella will be available at the benefit.

Donations to help defray Bella’s expenses can be sent via online, cash or check to Bella’s account at Community Bank of Hoopeston, 221 S. Bank St., Hoopeston, IL 60942.

Those who would like to help can contact Amy Young at 474-6831, Autumn Deck at 497-6754 or send a letter to 723 E. Main St., Hoopeston, IL 60942.

If you go

“Steps for Bella” Benefit will be noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Hoopeston American Legion. Some of the events will include face painting, games, bake sale, pumpkin carving contest, pie throwing contest (sign-up required), lunch, an auction and raffle.

Donations to help defray Bella’s expenses can be sent via online, cash or check to Bella’s account at Community Bank of Hoopeston, 221 S. Bank St., Hoopeston, IL 60942.