Born a premature baby at Orlando Heath Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Maya Tharoo weighed only one pound and fourteen ounces with a height of twelve inches. Maya’s journey into this world began with a surgery on her small intestine combined with multiple other health challenges, required her to remain at the hospital for 110 days. She believes she owes her life to the excellent care and dedication provided by the team of doctors and her family. Today, she has dedicated her life to raising awareness and serving that medical institution as her cause.


Maya on her way to visit children at NICU of Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.
Maya on her way to visit children at NICU of Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies.
Abdullah Tharoo

In a debt of gratitude and to give back to families experiencing similar challenges, Maya began her volunteer contribution at a tender age of 6 at the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), once a month. “Being a premature baby myself, I seek to inspire families of premature babies with hope, “she says.

At the age of nine, Maya continued her philanthropic work by founding the Miracle Maker Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports premature babies and their families globally. The mission and hope of the Miracle Maker Foundation is that all premature births receive the same care and attention, no matter their walks of life.The vision of the foundation is to provide scholarships for doctors who strive to establish a career in Neonatology but cannot afford it. The foundation aims to provide these doctors with  financial assistance to educate mothers in high-risk pregnancies, and to establish NICUs in developing countries while working in collaboration with nonprofits such as AKDN.

Maya is inspired by a sense of community values, which are expressed as service to improving the quality of life for others. Inspired by Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 2004 interview with Raj Mehrotra, in which he said, “Everyone’s life is a passage and perhaps the most one can do is to have left something behind during that passage which contributes and assists people to look to their future with more confidence, more stability, and more hope.” As an active youth in her community, Maya has been the recipient of many accoldaes such as the Orlando Community Builder Rising Star Award, and the Disney Dreamer & Doer Award.

Seeking to inspire her peers, Maya says, “find what you love and find a way to give back through the cause that inspires you. Everyone has a passion, and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you that pursuing it is a bad idea. There is no traditional way of giving, so don’t be shy about sharing your ideas because it might just be the idea that makes the most difference!”

Given the recent opportunity as a TEDx speaker at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center in Sugar Land, Maya engaged with her audience by sharing some of her ideas, and raising awareness of her philanthropic work.

As for her future, Maya desires to pursue a career in neonatology and contribute academically to enhancing field research. She is committed to voluntary work and aspires to be active in making a difference.