Couple pledges to match new donations for 10-year-old Athens girl recovering from heart transplant

The donation match will last for the next 30 days
Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 12:53 PM CDT
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ATHENS, Ala. (WAFF) - UPDATE (April 29, 2021): Following Bella’s heart transplant at Children’s Hospital in Nashville, a generous couple is adding to the donations already pledged to the Winters family.

According to the President of the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, a couple that wishes to remain anonymous has stated they will match any donations given for the next 30 days via the COTA website found in the below link.

You can learn more about Bella and donate to her cause by clicking here.

See our previous report on Bella’s surgery below:

We have good news to share with you. 10-year-old Bella Winters is out of surgery at Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville. She underwent a heart transplant early Sunday morning.

Bella’s mom, Corey Winters, says surgeons Bella is doing great, her vitals are stable and strong. The best news of all, Corey says, is that Bella’s new heart is beating.

In February, we told you about a little girl in Athens who needed a heart transplant.

As you can imagine, this is a costly surgery.

WAFF’s Elizabeth Gentle spoke to those with an organization providing hope to this family who needs it so much.

Bella Winters loves a good slice of pizza and time with family. She’s bright, spunky, but reserved when you first meet her. Bella’s favorite subject in school is math, and she’s quick to tell you her best pal is Trixie, her horse.

Watching Bella skip along the sidewalk you’d never know this 10 year old is in for the fight of her life.

“I have a heart problem,” Bella tells us.

“Bella has a congenital heart defect. She has 9 heart defects total,” said Corey, Bella’s mom.

Corey says her daughter was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome at birth. Last November, doctors told Bella’s parents she needs a heart transplant.

“Recently, we started noticing, over the last year-and-a-half or so, that the pump function of her heart is diminishing. It was then I started doing research. The last repair she had was called a fontan. What I read was that eventually the fontan will fail,” Corey explained.

Corey says a doctor is working on building an artificial heart pump for patients like Bella, but she says Bella doesn’t have much time to wait.

The cost for a heart transplant can skyrocket to more than a million dollars.

When Bella was a baby, Corey says the family lost a third of their income and gained $1,000 a month in copays and medical bills.

This time around, she’s leaving the financial worries to a group called The Children’s Organ Transplant Association, or COTA.

“What COTA tries to do is come alongside families and take the burden of the financial needs off their shoulders,” said Rick Lofgren, Children’s Organ Transplant Association President. “We work with volunteer teams in their home communities to help raise money so mom and dad can focus on their child and getting them back to full health again. We’ll help pay for the household expenses for her family, so when they do come home, they just pick back up where they left off, things will start to return to normal from a financial standpoint.”

“So far, for us right now, it’s the fundraising campaign. It’s going to be expensive to try and live, make sure everything is taken care of, everything that comes with running a house and living somewhere else for 12 weeks,” Corey explained.

You can learn more about Bella and donate to her cause by clicking here.

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