Not much time remains before the family of Bella Tucker can move back to their home on Lantern Lane.
They will be moving into a house dramatically different from the one they left, but the best news is that Bella is out of the hospital and will be moving back with them.
Bella Tucker, a 9-year old South School student, became ill on Easter Sunday and was in a coma for five days. She was diagnosed with Streptococcus Pneumonia Sepsis, and while she survived the disease, the infection led to a quadruple amputation of her limbs because of extensive nerve damage.
Bella has not been home since Easter. She was first hospitalized at Boston Children's Hospital and then transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston on Aug. 18. She was released from Spaulding on Oct. 8.
Bella returned to South School on Oct. 13, and is expected to attend school daily on a shortened schedule, as she continues her rehabilitation at Spaulding on an outpatient basis.
For the past month, her family has lived in a Manchester motel so that work could proceed more quickly on the renovations. Suffolk Construction Company broke ground on the renovations on Aug. 1. But now that Bella is out of the hospital, community volunteers are busy putting the finishing touches on a major remodeling of the family house.
"We built a" separate house on the back of theirs," said Anthony Nigro, a Londonderry resident and project executive at Suffolk Construction. "Then we had to make a giant hole in their living space to connect
the two - that's when they needed to relocate.
”Bella got a virus that would give you or me strep throat, which can be treated," said Nigro, "However, in Bella's case, it developed into what it did because she has an underdeveloped spleen, which makes her susceptible to such infections.
"When she was diagnosed and had the surgery, it brought a lot of attention," he added. "A group of Londonderry and Windham residents pulled me into the equation to try to modify the house. I went to college with one of their neighbors and they were like 'hey, you do this stuff, how can you help?' After realizing early in the summer that their house would need major renovations done, the Berry Fund raised money to help Suffolk Construction with the house."
Established as a holiday bake sale in 1994, the Berry Fund charitable organization works to help people, families and organizations in need in neighboring communities. One hundred percent of the funds raised are
distributed to the less fortunate, as William A. Berry & Son, Inc., a privately owned building contracting' firm, underwrites all administrative costs. Suffolk Construction acquired William A. Berry & Son, Inc., and Berry is now a division of Suffolk Construction.
Nigro said workers have turned the house into a mini hospital of sorts. "We added a reception area, an intercom, made it wheelchair accessible, added handicap accessible bathrooms and what not," he said. The renovation includes a generator and an elevator. The project is about three weeks from completion, and when it is finished, Nigro said Suffolk and William Berry & Son will throw a block party for the Tucker family, introducing Bella to her new home. The estimated date of completion and of the block party is Nov. 7.
The Berry Fund raised over $300,000, Nigro said. "We reached out to subcontractors in our area," said Nigro, "and just networked." The estimated cost of the project, according to Nigro, is between $300,000 and $350,000. Members of the community have also contributed to the Bella Tucker Fund from" a variety of