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Meet Marina: 2018 Family Advocacy Day Champion

Marina is participating at 2018 Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day from June 26-27 in Washington, D.C. During the event, Marina will share information about her health journey and the importance of children’s health care with members of Congress. Below is her story.

Marina is a compassionate, creative and talented girl who amazes and inspires everyone she meets. She loves swimming, cheerleading and hanging with family and friends. If you met Marina today, you might never know that she has successfully overcome 23 surgeries.

Now 11-years-old, Marina was born with giant omphalocele — a type of abdominal wall defect in which her bowel, liver, stomach, spleen and small intestines protruded out of the abdomen. She spent 10 months in the neonatal intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital before going home on life support.

The team at Johns Hopkins Children’s is more than just a group of medical experts to Marina and her family. Marina loves, trusts and admires Dr. Michael Gallant, who has affectionately participated in every procedure she has had since birth. Marina wants to follow “Uncle” Gallant’s path by becoming a pediatric plastic surgeon when she grows up.

Today, Marina is living a normal and healthy life! She has been off life support for 7 years, and her abdominal wall is fully closed for the first time.

Marina has participated at different Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathons to give back to the hospital that helped her overcome the toughest times of her life.

In July, she will also compete for the title of Miss Pre-Teen Florida at the National American Miss Pre-Teen Pageant to tell her story and spread awareness about omphalocele. Go, Marina!

Join us in welcoming Marina to 2018 Family Advocacy Day.


Showing 2 reactions


commented 2018-06-13 21:25:02 -0400 · Flag
I know Marina personally and from the 1st day I met her I was in awe of her infections smile, the love, respect and compassion she shows towards everyone, young and old. She is a young, beautiful, little lady who loves life and finds joy in it every single day. Marina I think your absolutely amazing and I love you. You are one in a million sweetie.
commented 2018-06-13 14:26:23 -0400 · Flag
Oh my goodness what a wonderful article! Thank you for highlighting my sweet Marina!