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Homecoming surprise in Athens for 11-year-old heart transplant recipient

Bella Winters finally gets to come back home to Athens after receiving her heart transplant in April.

Posted: Jun 12, 2021 4:01 PM
Updated: Jun 14, 2021 3:13 PM

An 11-year-old in Athens is finally home after receiving a heart transplant in April.

Members of the community surprised Bella Winters for a drive-by homecoming Saturday afternoon.

WAAY 31 had the only reporter at the homecoming. We learned how the family feels about bringing their daughter home again.

After eight long weeks of being in and out of Vanderbilt Hospital, Bella is finally home in Athens. 

Now, she's back and better than ever. 

“We’re bringing home a much healthier child this time than we ever have, and she’s so much better. It’s amazing," said Corey Winters, Bella's mom.

Bella was born with nine heart defects. 

“The surgeon told us, ‘It was a pretty bad heart. It’s amazing it was still going,'" said Corey.

But now her mom says Bella has a happy and healthy heart. 

"She is doing so well and every time we go, we get good reports.”

Bella and her parents were escorted home by police officers. They were then greeted by family, friends, and the East Limestone Marching Band. 

To some, it could be overwhelming having all those people cheering for you.

How did Bella feel?

"Excited," Bella said.

She's also excited to start up horseback riding and dancing again. As well as being a regular kid. 

“We haven’t really had normal in 11 years, so maybe this is our chance to getting to normal," said David Winters, Bella's dad.

“She is so much healthier now and her, you know, prospects of a long future are much better than they’ve ever been," said Corey.

Bella is still on the road to recovery, but the Winters family is finally all back together in Athens again. 

“I just feel like we can breathe like a weight's been lifted," said Corey.

From all of WAAY 31, welcome home Bella!

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