Scottsdale nonprofit flies toddler who nearly drowned to New Orleans for treatment

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- A little girl who nearly drowned in September is on her way to a hospital in New Orleans thanks to Wings of Humanity, a nonprofit organization in Scottsdale.

Eviana Joy was found at the bottom of her family's pool in Goodyear near Indian School and Perryville roads. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition and was discharged in December. "She spent 70 days total in the hospitals, 36 days in ICU," said Sean Maas, Eviana's father. "For her being potentially underwater for a few minutes, for her to even be here is absolutely a miracle."

Maas said Eviana has a mild brain injury and is hooked up to a feeding tube. Her oxygen levels and heart rate are also constantly monitored. "It was very touch-and-go for awhile; she was in extremely critical condition. What you see now is pure progression from where she was at when this happened," Maas said.

The Maas family is now heading to New Orleans to see a doctor who has a hyperbaric chamber, which can regenerate tissue and help with brain injuries. "He's one of the --from our research and information we got -- one of the best in the world for that, and he's had successful cases with drowning victims in the past," Maas said. The family plans on being in Louisiana for about two months while Eviana gets the hyperbaric treatments. "We want her to live the most normal life she can and grow up and be happy, so that's what we're hoping for," Maas said. "After the hyperbaric, there will be other therapies and occupational therapies and speech therapy that will most likely have to happen. The start is hyperbaric, and then we kind of work and build on that."

Wings of Humanity, which is a new nonprofit based in Scottsdale, is making sure the family gets there free of charge. "Everything we provide is all from donations, tax donations," explained Wings of Humanity CEO Stan Strom. "So, the more money we have, the more flights we're able to make. The cost would normally be about $20,000 for a parent or insurance company for something like this, and we do it for less than that." The company says it's dedicated to "saving children's lives - one flight at a time."

The plane is equipped with medical supplies and a medical staff who can take care of patients for the duration of the flight. "There's a demand in this country that's not being met, and we're the only nonprofit," Strom said. "That's why we started it; to provide free transport for children to and from hospitals for children that otherwise wouldn't be able to get that treatment."

Air7 provided the fuel for Eviana's flight.

Less than a month ago, Wings for Humanity flew a Phoenix 3-year-old to New Orleans for a similar treatment. For more information about Wings of Humanity or to make a donation, check out WingsOfHumanity.org.

If you would like to help Eviana's family with her medical expenses, they have set up a GoFundMe account.

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