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Trisomy 18 can't stop the Santorums

Brittney Elkins

Trisomy 18 has affected Rick Santorum's family. His wife Karen, pictured above with her older daughter Sarah Maria, gave birth to their daughter Bella three years ago. Bella is living with Trisomy 18, but beat the odds just by surviving the first year.

The GOP candidate’s daughter Bella was released from the hospital late Monday night, and has already won many battles against the disorder.

Trisomy 18 is the genetic disorder that had GOP candidate Rick Santorum’s 3-year-old daughter in the hospital this weekend. Today, Bella Santorum is heading home, and her dad is taking some time off this morning to help her get settled.

Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, is caused by a chromosomal defect. It occurs in about 1 of every 3000 live births. According to the Trisomy 18 Foundation, issues caused by Trisomy 18 are associated with complications that are more potentially life-threatening in the early months and years of life. Half of the babies carried to term will be stillborn. Only 10 percent survive to their first birthdays. But a small number of adults, usually girls, with Trisomy 18 are living into their twenties and thirties.

Rick Santorum did not campaign on Monday, so he could be with Bella in the hospital. Santorum had taken five days off to celebrate Easter and spend time with his daughter. Santorum has talked in the past about how Trisomy 18 has affected his entire family and how they did not expect Bella to survive her first year of life. A cold can bring her close to death.

But studies have shown that more and more children are surviving to older ages like Bella Santorum. According to the study, published by Dr. Chris Feudtner, more than a third of hospitalizations for Trisomy 18, and the closely related Trisomy 13, over the past 15 years were for children more than a year old. In more than 10 percent of cases, the child was beyond age 8.

Santorum cancelled his first two campaign appearances scheduled for Tuesday morning but added a stop in Gettysburg, Pa. in the afternoon. Tuesday night Santorum will head to Lancaster, Pa. for a “conversation on faith, family and American values,” as his campaign has called it.

As the Santorums have fought the uphill battle for survival against Trisomy 18, Rick Santorum vows to bring that same gumption to the battle for the GOP nomination.

Mitt Romney is well ahead of Santorum in the race, and he even told Mike Huckabee on his radio show, “It’s kind of hard for anyone to get the delegates to pass me at this stage, so it looks pretty good.”

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