• Bella died Monday after battling COVID-19 for weeks
  • She was born with Kabuki Syndrome, a rare, life-threatening medical condition
  • Doctors had warned that Bella would not survive COVID-19 infection because of her health condition

A 13-year-old Wisconsin girl with a rare genetic disorder died Monday battling COVID-19 infection for weeks. After the teen's tragic death, her heartbroken mother urged people to wear masks and take precautions to protect the vulnerable in the community.

The little girl, Bella, from Cedarburg, was born with Kabuki Syndrome and had to undergo heart surgery, chemotherapy, and even a liver transplant because of her rare, life-threatening medical condition, CBS 58 reported.

Although Bella had cheerfully faced all her health issues, her doctors had warned the family that she would not survive a COVID-19 infection. So the whole family took all necessary precautions and got themselves vaccinated to protect their little child. Despite all that, Bella contracted the virus three weeks back after one of her family members tested positive.

Like doctors expected, Bella's condition soon deteriorated. She was intubated for two weeks before succumbing to death on Feb. 14.

"It was excruciating, it was hard to watch... It was just completely heartbreaking, and I just wanted to do anything to take it away, and I wish it was me instead of her," Bella's grieving mother, Katie Pape, said, TMJ 4 reported.

Although Bella had a life-threatening medical condition, her doctors said she would have had more time if she did not contract the virus.

"My daughter would still be alive today if she had not gotten COVID," Pape added.

Pape had earlier fought to keep mask mandates in schools and the community, knowing the risk the infection could cause to vulnerable children like her daughter. However, the Cedarburg school board made masks optional for the 2021-2022 school year, and Pape said it was "crushing" when she heard the decision. "It was the first time I felt like we didn't have the whole community behind us," she said.

The bereaved mother said she now wants people to think about Bella’s story and others like her who are at risk while feeling reluctant to take precautions against the virus. "Would you really want to know that you are possibly responsible for taking the life of someone as precious as my daughter?" Pape asked.

Pape said she would be continuing her fight to bring the mask mandate with the hope that her tragic loss would change people's minds about wearing a mask and taking other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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