(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Cohn)
Rick Santorum's daughter has made a "miraculous turnaround," according to the Republican presidential candidate, who shared news of her condition at a tele-town hall on Sunday night.
Isabella, or "Bella," as the family calls her, suffers from a rare and serious genetic disorder, called Trisomy 18, that kills about 90 percent of children before or during birth, ABC News reported.
The former Pennsylvania senator has been forced to cancel appearances during the weekend so that he can tend to his daughter in the hospital, a decision which former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin highly praised and described as a "Christ-like" example.
"Thank you, Rick and Karen Santorum, for living the Christ-like example of sacrifice and right priorities. Nothing is more precious or important than the life of an innocent child. Our prayers are with Bella, a perfect child in an imperfect world," Palin shared on Facebook.
"Ann and I send prayers and best wishes for Bella's good health to Rick and Karen Santorum and their entire family," one of Santorum's main rivals for the Republican candidacy, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tweeted.
Besides Trisomy 18, Bella was also diagnosed with pneumonia in both of her lungs, and is currently in intensive care. However, Santorum had some good news to share with Florida voters ahead of Tuesday's primary.
"She's had a miraculous turnaround. We have a long way to go, but she turned the corner and we are very, very grateful," the former senator explained, stating that he will be back campaigning on Monday afternoon with events in Missouri and Minnesota.
His statement to supporters was broadcast from his daughter's hospital room in Virginia, and he remarked that Karen, his wife, was "smiling" at Bella's improved condition. He added that he was feeling "pretty pumped," and that she was no longer in great danger.
"I know how she got through it," Santorum said to Minnesota voters. "It was with the hands of these doctors and the prayers that guided those hands."
Despite narrowly beating Romney in the Iowa caucus by 34 points, Santorum has yet to win the majority vote in any of the other states – prompting some to ask whether he should skip campaigning in Florida altogether, since it has fewer social conservatives than even South Carolina, where he came in third place in the primary.