MIAMI – A young Miami girl had her world seriously shaken when she was diagnosed with pancreatitis. She spent the beginning of her journey at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Now she’s turned her very intense experience into something positive.
Isabella Pedraja started having severe stomach pains.
“I wanna say I’ve always felt that type of pain throughout my life but it’s never been as much as it was in that moment,” she said.
She was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, which health experts say is uncommon for kids.
“I felt excruciating back pain and my stomach hurt. I couldn’t lay down on my back and I had to lay down on my side and even that would hurt,” she said.
Things escalated quickly.
“Then they told my parents I was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, which means it wouldn’t get better, the only option was to remove it,” Pedraja said.
There aren’t many doctors in South Florida who specialize in what Pedraja was diagnosed with and her episodes were getting much worse.
So, she and her parents dropped their lives in Miami and moved to Cincinnati for about two months where there was a team just for that.
“It was kind of sad because I was just dropping everything I had in Miami,” she said.
“Did you ever feel alone in the process?” we asked.
“Yes. People go on with their lives and you don’t seem to realize until after it’s happened,” Pedraja said.
Doctors said she needed to undergo serious surgery. That involved removing the pancreas and spleen and reconstructing how her entire gastro-intestinal system works.”
“My mind didn’t catch up to the news and then when it happened I was like, ‘Wow, this is a lot,’ ” she said.
She had a long and difficult recovery ahead of her, but the 13-year-old was able to make it back to Miami for her eighth-grade graduation.
Pedraja had been through so much pain, physically and emotionally that she wanted to somehow give back. So, she began fundraising for families who have to deal with the costly and painful disease.
“Why don’t I raise money for Cincinnati and more importantly the pancreas unit,” she recalled. “I don’t want parents and kids to worry about the money and to be in the moment with their kid.”
Her initial goal was to raise $5,000 but that changed quickly.
“$30,000, $40,000 and it keeps going up.”
She made it to $60,000 in three weeks. Now her new goal is $100,000.
Her journey left behind a scar, but she says it is a constant reminder of why she wants to help those who ever have to endure what she did.
“It just shows who I am as a person. That’s my story. That’s my road map. That’s my life right there.”
Find out about her fundraising campaign. Click here.
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