The network selected Belle Helton, 9, as its Georgia ambassador for its 2014 Champions program, which seeks to show that donating to its hospitals is helping children locally.
Belle underwent a kidney transplant in October 2011 after numerous family ordeals which postponed the surgery for more than a year.
According to her mother, Michelle, Belle is now the “face and voice” of the network in her home state.
“Belle knows that she is the voice of millions of children undergoing treatment at Children’s Miracle Network hospitals and wants to do all she can for this cause,” her mother said.
Despite only being 9, Belle is scheduled to speak at numerous fundraising events and will travel with her family to Washington, D.C., and Orlando, Fla., on the Children’s Miracle Network Ambassadors Tour to highlight the vital work done at their hospitals.
When she speaks to groups as she has already done before Wal-Mart employees at the Stone Mountain Marriott Hotel, as well as the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech, she doesn’t need notes because, as she said, “I speak right from my heart.”
Belle was born in 2004 and, just six weeks into her life, she contracted a high fever.
Her mother took her to a hospital where tests showed she had congenital nephrotic syndrome, a condition which can shut down one’s kidneys.
Because she was an infant, her parents had to wait an agonizing 18 months until a transplant could be scheduled.
However, in March 2010 Belle’s kidneys went into full renal failure. Doctors at Children’s Healthcare at Egleston in Atlanta — a network hospital — found that both parents were a perfect match and could donate kidneys. Her father Kyle Helton was selected.
However, shortly thereafter, and despite all the hardships the family already had endured, her father lost his job and doctors turned to Belle’s mother as the donor.
While being tested as a donor, doctors found Michelle had invasive breast cancer which left her unable to donate.
It wasn’t until 2011 that her mother’s cancer treatment had the disease in remission and Belle’s father, Kyle, secured another job and he was able to donate.