NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A young girl from the Bronx is making a remarkable recovery after surviving a rare disease, and a new doll is helping her continue to heal and show her she’s beautiful.
Seven-year-old Amillian Avila, who goes by Mimi, is just like any other kid. She loves doing arts and crafts, playing basketball and playing with dolls.
Her favorite is a doll she’s named Precious.
Two years ago, Mimi was a healthy girl. Her mom, Vanessa Avila, says what came next was unimaginable.
“It started off with a pain in the arm, and then from the pain, it turned into a fever,” Avila said.
Eventually, it got worse. It turned out Mimi was infected with a flesh-eating disease that caused multi-organ failure.
Avila says to save Mimi’s life, doctors had to amputate her left arm. Experts still don’t know how she got infected.
“People can get it from an open wound and from deep trauma. For her, it’s not clear,” Dr. Xiofang Wei said.
The recovery brought Mimi to Blythedale Children’s Hospital and to occupational therapist Kelly Milano.
“Mimi is fun, energetic, and she’s a really great kid. She’s a true warrior,” she said.
Milano works with Mimi five days a week, but she thought she was missing something — a special companion to boost her self-confidence.
It’s called “A Doll Like Me.” Each one is handmade to look just like any kid, and the $100 toy came as a birthday gift from a Wisconsin boy. The complete stranger raised money for Mimi after hearing her story and recorded a happy birthday message for her.
“I felt like if she had a doll that looked like her, she would see that she is beautiful, just like the doll is beautiful,” Milano said.
Mimi is a beautiful fighter, now with a sidekick to match her bravery. She just got a prosthetic arm last week and is working with therapists on how to use it.