Las Cruces girl, 6, awaits liver transplant

Las Cruces Sun News | Rachel Courtney and Alexia Severson

LAS CRUCES - Looking at Gabriella "Bella" Bruggemann, you wouldn’t guess she is sick. She seems like any 6 year old — smart, sassy and happy. But Bella was born with biliary atresia and congenital abnormalities.

Biliary atresia is a life-threatening condition in infants in which the bile ducts (tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and the small intestine) inside or outside the liver do not have normal openings, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

When Bella was 3 weeks old, she had her first surgery, and it won’t be her last. In the next couple of months, Bella is expected to get a new liver, a common treatment for biliary atresia. Bella and her family recently made the trek from Las Cruces to Atlanta, where they must await a call from the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston telling them “it’s time.” Once the call comes, the family has four hours to get to the hospital and get Bella prepped in time for the transplant.

"We could get the call at any time," said Bella's mother Laura Bruggemann. "We cannot leave our phones on silent, just in case the call comes." Continue reading