Meet Isabella: 2021 Family Advocacy Week Champion
Isabella is participating in Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Week from June 13-18, 2021. Through this event, Isabella and her family will discuss her health journey, UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital’s role in providing Isabella with necessary health care services, and why the public and our elected officials must invest in the future of patients like Isabella.
Isabella was born prematurely and spent three months in the NICU at Huntington Hospital, Pasadena. At 1 week old, she contracted bacterial meningitis, e. coli and it proved to be a difficult path forward. She was intubated, needed a blood transfusion, and put on strong antibiotics.
Then, 2-month-old Isabella developed water on the brain and had a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt placed to help drain the extra fluid.
“The diagnosis was scary and surreal,” says Gloria, Isabella’s mother. “We were starting with a brand-new doctor and our first visit establishing her as a patient led to scheduling brain surgery.”
Isabella’s family expected she may face challenges, including difficulties with walking and speech. At 3 years old, she was also diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy and wears a leg brace in conjunction with physical therapy when needed. She has also gone to occupational and feeding therapy.
Ten years after Isabella’s initial VP shunt placement, an MRI indicated that the shunt was malfunctioning, and her ventricles were enlarged. Isabella began seeing Dr. Fallah at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital for treatment. From August 2019 to June 2020, she had four shunt revisions due to complications with each shunt. However, following the latest surgery, physical therapy and several follow-up appointments, Isabella is doing well.
“UCLA Mattel provides her with the care she needs in a nurturing, compassionate and caring way, making her feel safe,” says Gloria.
Isabella is now 12 years old and has improved significantly since her last surgery. She has an upcoming eye surgery for strabismus, but after that she is looking forward to a more relaxed summer, with no more surgeries. She is a straight-A student, an avid reader, loves making art and cooking for her family.