Bright-eyed Marina Hoyle will turn 9 this August. In those 9 short years, she has faced an uphill battle, starting with symptoms at age 2 that doctors first diagnosed as celiac disease. Marina began experiencing new symptoms by age 5, prompting her doctors to reevaluate her initial diagnosis.

After consulting a GI specialist, Marina’s family sought a second opinion at Levine Children’s Hospital. Dr. Dranove, a Pediatric Gastroenterologist, listened to Marina’s parents describe her story; his first response was to order tests for Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The family was shocked—though they had a lot to learn about CF, they knew that it was a chronic, life-shortening disease.

When the definitive diagnosis of CF was made, Marina was scheduled to see a pulmonologist right away. Her mother, Noelle, describes the days following Marina’s diagnosis, “It was so much information, all the new medicines she would be started on, talk of a bronchoscopy and a possible hospital admission.”

But Marina and her family soon found comfort in a dedicated team of physicians, nurses, and Child Life Specialists, all of whom worked together to ensure that the family’s transition to their new life—one that included a child facing CF—was as smooth as possible.

Noelle recalls, “Levine Children’s Hospital is amazing.  We were all scared and didn’t know what to expect. We try not to hide things from Marina. She likes to know what is going to happen and feel a part of the decisions. [Her doctor] always explains everything to Marina and to us, but she knows Marina likes to know what is going on and makes sure Marina is involved.”

Marina’s parents are thankful for the physical care as much as the emotional care that Levine Children’s Hospital staff provide to their daughter. From taking time to learn Marina’s favorite things—like the color pink and horses—to treating Marina to a surprise birthday celebration while she was at the clinic; her mother remarks, “They know my daughter, she is not just a number.”

Noelle continues, “Levine Children’s Hospital gives unbelievable care to their patients. They make sure that the children know what is going on, make it personal to each child, and always try to make it as comfortable as possible…[they do] an amazing job of taking a bad situation and making the best of it.  They get to know the children personally, and make you feel like part of their own families.  It may not seem like much but a smile and friendly attitude really make a huge difference.  My daughter feels special when she is at the hospital and she doesn’t consider them her care team she considers them her friends.  Of course she considers [her physician], Dr. Champion, ‘the doctor of champions’.”

Tune into WCNC-TV on August 14, from 6am-6pm for the Give Here for Kids Here Telethon to learn more about Marina’s story and those of many other grateful patients from Levine Children’s Hospital.