After almost dying three years ago, an eastern Iowa girl was recently honored for her continued hard work and determination in therapy.
Five-year-old Maiya Little of Waterloo received a medal from the Early Developmental Intervention Department at Covenant Medical Center.
The medal is through the "Medals 4 Mettle" program, which accepts medal donations from top athletes in marathons, half marathons and triathlons -- and gives those medals to children and adults who bravely face debilitating illnesses everyday.
At age two, Maiya got sick with influenza A.
"Her brain started to swell. She got an infection of the white matter of the brain," said mom Brooke Little.
She was in a coma in Iowa City for about a month.
"They didn't now if she'd make it or not or how much damage would be done from all the swelling," said Brooke Little.
Maiya's parents say doctors finally found a drug to help reduce the swelling in her brain, and she eventually got to go home.
"When we took her home she couldn't sit up, had a feeding tube, she couldn't hold herself up. So she had to re-learn everything she'd learned in two years," said Brooke Little.
And re-learn everything is exactly what Maiya's done. Three years later, Maiya attends speech, physical and occupational therapy three times a week at the Early Developmental Intervention Department at Covenant Medical Center.
"We're really working on cleaning up her speech so it's easier for everyone to understand her, but she's done amazing."
Maiya's parents said they're not surprised at her progress because she's a fighter.
"It's been a long three years. It's been a long process and she's really made it through with flying colors. So we're really proud of her," said dad Mike Little.
"Maiya can brighten anyone's day. She works so hard, and we're really, really proud of her," said speech/language pathologist Abby Waldschmitt.
Waldschmitt said Maiya's "Medal 4 Mettle" award is also for Maiya's family for bringing her to therapy and working with her at home.
During the summer, Maiya had surgery on her legs, so she missed therapy, but she's making progress in walking and talking.
It's been a difficult three years for the Little family. Brooke had to quit her job, but the family is closer than ever and certain Maiya will only continue to progress.
"Her smile is amazing. Her spirit. Her determination," said Brooke Little.
The Early Developmental Intervention Department at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo hopes to give out a medal to a deserving patient about every four to six months.
For more information on the medals program, click here.
Reporter: Danielle Wagner