Bright blue eyes and the sweetest smile are what you immediately notice when you look at two-year-old Maeve Danson. What you don’t see is the determination this little girl has used to overcome significant obstacles in her path.

Before Maeve was born, Keira and Clinton were informed at their 20 week ultrasound that something wasn’t quite right. Hearing that their baby would be born with a rare neuromuscular condition in which 30 percent of children do not live to their first birthday, stunned them both. “It was heartbreaking and stressful to hear but we were thankful to get a diagnosis and a plan,” says Keira.

On February 2, 2016 Maeve was born with a rare condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita - which means fixed joints. Maeve is affected in every joint of her arms and legs, which makes the simplest tasks very difficult or practically impossible. As an infant, her parents weren't able to hold Maeve chest to chest until she was four months old because her limbs were rigid, extending straight in front of her. Something as automatic for a baby as putting their fingers in their mouth, Maeve finally accomplished post-surgery at 15 months of age. Early intervention and the knowledge of a skilled medical team were key to Maeve’s progress.

CHEO’s neonatal intensive care unit was Maeve’s first interaction with CHEO. She was admitted for observation during the first few days of her life to ensure she wouldn’t have breathing or feeding issues which thankfully she did not.

At three weeks of age Maeve began treatments at CHEO’s Development and Rehabilitation Department. “We hit the ground running,” explains mom Keira. “The can-do attitude of her therapists was just what we needed. Early intervention is paramount for children with this neuro-muscular condition.”

The therapy team at CHEO has become an extension of the Danson family. “I don’t know where Maeve would be without them,” adds dad Clinton. “They give us hope and believe in our daughter as much as we do.”

Maeve has had many challenges and thanks to a multidisciplinary approach bringing together surgery, bracing, splinting, casting, extensive and consistent physical therapy, and an at-home routine, she is overcoming some of those challenges and blossoming, becoming more mobile and independent just like many two year olds.

"We celebrate milestones hard with Maeve, like being able to feed herself at 15 months and walking just before her second birthday,” says Keira.

She is currently enrolled in CHEO's Development and Rehabilitation pre-school where she socializes with other children her age and receives treatment from her various therapists. She will also attend the JK and SK program where she will be able to grow and learn in an environment that will support her independence and give her the skills to succeed in a regular classroom.

Maeve is a bright little girl with an infectious smile. She is the perfect combination of silly and sweet. Maeve loves make-believe play with her siblings and exploring the world around her. She is always very excited when she picks her nose (and truthfully her parents are proud of her too). Her favourite artist is Raffi, but she has been known to rock out to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Her soft bunny is never too far away and has been with her on every step of this journey.

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