Staring at her special doll last week, a British toddler knew she had an instant, new best friend.
Harmonie-Rose Ivy Allen, 2, is a quadruple amputee whose limbs had to be removed after she contracted meningitis when she was 11 months old.
Her new best buddy is an American Girl doll named Rebecca made specially for Harmonie. Rebecca also is a quadruple amputee whose prostheses are removable.
"Her eyes lit up,'' Freya Hall, Harmonie's mother, told TODAY. "She said, 'Mummy, she's like me!' She was so happy."
In September 2014, Harmonie was rushed to the hospital by her parents from their home in Bath, England, when they noticed she wasn't breathing properly. Doctors diagnosed her with a strain of meningitis that developed into meningococcal septicaemia, necessitating the amputation of her arms and legs and the tip of her nose.
Doctors gave her less than a 10 percent chance of survival and feared that she might have significant developmental issues. However, while she still is persevering through some health issues like a recent bowel procedure, she hasn't shown any sign of brain damage, according to Hall.
"She is bubbly, smart and completely amazing,'' Hall said. "She is so loving and caring, but at the same time she has a feisty side. It fits her perfectly!"
In advance of Harmonie's third birthday in November, Hall and dad Ross Allen wanted to get her something special.
They had a customized American Girl doll made with the help of New York-based A Step Ahead Prosthetics, which does the modifications for free for children who have lost limbs.
A family friend, Michelle Clarke, picked up the doll at the American Girl store in Manhattan and delivered it to the couple to help save on shipping fees.
Harmonie had been such a trooper through her recent hospital visit for the bowel issue that they decided to give her the doll on July 31, a few months ahead of her birthday.
Having a doll that looks like her has had a significant impact on Harmonie.
"Although we don't teach children that they are different, they learn this themselves because children ask so many questions,'' Hall said. "To see a doll that's just the same shows the child that they are not alone and that it is fine to be different."
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