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McMinn County High School student is just one of the patients Children's Hospital helps to thrive

This year, instead of Fantasy of Trees, Children's Hospital of East Tennessee will host an online raffle

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — Now he's 14 and a freshman at McMinn County High School.

But shortly after he was born, a screening showed Wesley Graybeal had Cystic Fibrosis, or CF.

"It's just part of my normal life that I live with and try to take care of," Wesley said. 

Ali Metcalf is the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic program coordinator at Children's Hospital.

"Cystic fibrosis is a life-long, genetic disease. The easiest way to describe it is that it causes thick and sticky mucus. So, anywhere that you have mucus, you are having problems," she said. 

CF affects Wesley's lungs, his digestion, and his nose but it doesn't affect his attitude.

"When I first started trombone, it was kind of difficult, but I'm used to it now. I think I'm pretty good at it," he said. "I don't let CF hold me back with sports as well. I play soccer and golf, I used to play tennis in middle school and still play for fun, and I go running."

Credit: Wesley Graybeal
Wesley Graybeal enjoys golf and other sports

Pulmonary function testing is just one part of his ongoing regimen at the Cystic Fibrosis Care Center at Children's Hospital.

"I have to do a lot of treatment for my nose, my lungs, and I have to do some treatment for my pancreatic, just digestion really," Wesley said. "Then I have to take, probably, 35 pills a day, some with each meal."

Ali said, "Wesley's doing great and really doing proactive treatments and keeping on your regimen everyday is huge in CF."

Credit: East Tennessee Children's Hospital
Wesley Graybeal gets tests and treatment for Cystic Fibrosis at East Tennessee Children's Hospita

A note about the video in this story: WBIR and Children's Hospital are observing COVID protocols so our team did not go inside the hospital. The staff who work at ETCH provided that video.

She sees the extent of equipment and treatment that patients need to manage CF both at Children's Hospital and at home.

"Not just in clinic, but really our CF patients are seen everywhere in the hospital. They are seen in the radiology, they're seen in the OR, they're seen in the inpatient unit, they're seen in the lab. So, really the entire hospital sees our patients," she said. 

A virtual raffle during November will raise money Donations to pay for equipment that can keep kids like Wesley healthy.

"I, fortunately, do not have to be hospitalized a lot. I think that's because I take really good care of myself and I've been taught very well by the people at Children's Hospital and my parents," he said. "I try to have CF not control me. I try to control my CF."

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