Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News
Yaya Bradford's mother says her daughter's homecoming is "the best Christmas gift ever."
A 5-year-old girl who sustained a stroke six months ago is home in time for Christmas.
For the last six and a half months, Ayanna Bradford, or Yaya, has called Cook Children's Medical Center home. Yaya has fought to overcome challenge after challenge.
"It's been a long road, a long road … I call it a roller coaster -- ups and downs, loops and twists and twirls," said her mother, Mandy Bradford.
After 196 days, Yaya left the hospital, walking, talking and happy.
"Barbies aside, this is the best Christmas gift ever," Bradford said.
Her mother said she never "in a million years" thought they would still be at the hospital until it was almost Christmas. And after so long in the hospital, her family had just one Christmas wish.
"That's been our prayer and our hope -- to make it home for Christmas," Bradford said.
Yaya's parents took her to the hospital on June 2 with a bad stomachache. It turned out to be a stroke, with serious complications.
"We didn't know if she was going to live or die, and they told us, we were just watching and waiting," Bradford said.
If she did survive, nobody knew if she would ever walk or talk again. But after six major operations, Yaya has made amazing progress.
"We're happy when any patient goes home," Dr. Fernando Acosta Jr. said. "When they've been here as long as Yaya, we really want to try to get them home. I mean, we love Yaya and her family, but they're ready to go home. We want them to have a change of scenery."
Bradford has started a nonprofit, the ANE Pediatric Stroke Foundation, to help call attention to strokes in children. Among other things, the foundation plans to cook breakfast for young hospital patients on Christmas morning.
NBC 5's Scott Gordon contributed to this report.