Pella Community Shows it is ‘Stella Strong’

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PELLA, Iowa -- A Pella family is finally back together after one of its youngest members had a long hospital stay.

“Oh man this is unbelievable, I never thought we’d be in the hospital that long,” said mom Sarah Turnbull.

At just one-month-old Stella was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. The disease weakens all of the body`s muscles and muscle systems. Stella's family was warned at the hospital that she would only live a few weeks -- she is now nine-years-old.

Last month Stella suffered complications and had to be air-lifted to the hospital. Doctors found blood clots in her heart and lungs and again her family was told to prepare for the worst.

“She was in very critical condition the very first night we were there her blood pressure got down to 30 over 30 and they were doing everything they could for hours and finally at one point said there was nothing more they could do. She was in renal failure, she was in kidney failure not to mention there were blood clots blocking off her heart. And it truly was a miracle, the doctors say it was a miracle and she finally took off and was sustained and it was amazing, truly amazing,” said Sarah Turball.

Stella and her family didn't fight the disease alone. Friends came up with the idea of a "Stella Strong" t-shirt. They hoped to sell 100 of them and donate the money to the family. The community responded, snapping up 650 of the shirts.

Stella’s dad Travis Turnbull said, “There are 26 people that we really need to thank because she needed 26 units of blood during her stay in Iowa City.”

Stella is now doing great. She'll first use Skype to join her classmates in school and is expected to be in class in person later this year.