Myrikhal's name (pronounced "miracle") gives away much of her story. She was born prematurely at 26 weeks, and her parents were not sure she would survive. But every day, within the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the University of Maryland Children's Hospital (UMCH), she got a little bit stronger and earned the name "Myrikhal" because she defied the odds and lived.

Eventually she was able to leave the NICU and go home, but the family knew specialty care from UMCH was needed to ensure Myrikhal thrived.

"We often follow babies who have been in the NICU because we need to be sure they are getting the nutrition they need to grow when they are sent home," explains Runa Watkins, MD, of pediatric gastroenterology.

Pediatric gastroenterology, which can focus on a child's digestion, liver, nutritional and failure to thrive issues, was one of the specialties Myrikhal needed. In order for her to successfully grow and get nutrition, a feeding tube was placed in her belly when she was 6 months old.

"She could eat orally, but the feeding tube — which the family learned to use — ensured Myrikhal was getting the adequate calories and nutrition she needed for proper growth," adds Dr. Watkins.

Dreams of Being a Doctor

Also, because Myrikhal was born with a chronic lung disease, Anayansi Lasso-Pirot, MD, of pediatric pulmonology, was another specialist the family needed to see often to be sure Myrikhal could breathe easily.

"The doctors are great. They always answer our questions and help oversee her care," explains Myrikhal's mother, Michelle, who is quick to add that her daughter truly continues to be a "miracle" because she has come such a long way. A recent milestone was the removal of her feeding tube.

Myrikhal now has dreams of being a doctor when she grows up. She wants to be sure other kids can get the same great care she has received at UMCH.

Are you looking for a pediatric specialist? Call the UM Children's Hospital at 410-328-5887.