Young girl fighting for her life in Charlotte shortly after family left Ukraine

The family paid tens of thousands of dollars to fly the little girl from Ukraine back home to the Charlotte area.
Tonight a young girl from Huntersville is undergoing serious medical treatment at Levine Children's Hospital
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 12:15 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In early February, 5-year-old Maria Melnyk’s family returned home to the United States seeking better medical treatment for their daughter.

Yuriy Melnyk, a Huntersville resident and Maria’s father, said he and his family were visiting relatives in the western portion of Ukraine in the summer of 2021. He said that during the trip Maria started to feel sick and complained of stomach pain. When the pain didn’t subside, Maria was taken to the hospital. It was determined that her illness was being caused by an infection. Melnyk said doctors then told him his daughter was suffering kidney failure and needed to be taken to the intensive care unit at a hospital in Kyiv, the nation’s capital.

“We realized that something serious was going on and it was really, really scary,” said Melnyk.

He said his daughter’s condition quickly deteriorated over the next several days and her medical issues began compounding. She was hospitalized and over the last several months suffered from kidney failure, cardiac arrest, and multiple strokes. Melnyk explained that at one point he and his family thought they would lose Maria.

“It was happening real quick. We were transferred to the ICU. They told us you have a couple of hours,” said Melnyk.

He explained that his daughter has continued to fight despite the compounding medical issues that have come her way.

Melnyk said that after coordinating with an air ambulance company and multiple hospitals, the family paid tens of thousands of dollars to fly the little girl from Ukraine back home to the Charlotte area. He said their hope was that Maria would receive better neurological care in the United States than she would receive in Ukraine.

A Ukrainian doctor even offered to fly with Maria to the United States.

“Not just for him, I owe my life to those people,” said Melnyk about the Ukrainian doctors who cared for his daughter.

Upon arriving in the United States, Maria was transferred to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. The family made it back to their home in Huntersville just weeks before the Russian invasion began.

“Me and my wife, we looked at each other and we were thinking that we were saving her, but it looks like she was saving us,” said Melnyk.

Maria’s Melnyk’s medical journey is ongoing. Her father said she’s often heavily sedated, but doctors are trying to ween her off the sedation medication.

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