He may have been born without a nose, but to his mother and father, little Eli Thompson is a “miracle baby” who is just “perfect as is.”
When Brandi McGlathery gave birth to Eli in an Alabama hospital on March 4, three weeks before his due date, she noticed that something was wrong with him as soon as doctors placed the 6 pound, 8 ounce baby in her arms.
“I pulled back and said, ‘Something’s wrong!’ And the doctor said, ‘No, he’s perfectly fine.’ Then I shouted, ‘He doesn’t have a nose!’” McGlathery told the Huntsville Times.
The 23-year-old mother of two said she was surprised because all of the ultrasounds during her pregnancy were normal.
“I was expecting a perfectly healthy baby boy,” she wrote on a GoFundMe page that has been set up to raise funds for his medical care. “I never expected anything to be wrong with him.”
Doctors told McGlathery that the chances of a baby being born without a nose are roughly one in 10 billion.
An ear nose and throat specialist performed an exam and told her baby Eli was not born with nasal passages or sinus cavities, meaning plastic surgeons could not simply build a nose for him.
Eli’s condition, called congenital arhinia, is extremely rare, according to the Huntsville Times, noting that there are just 37 diagnosed cases worldwide.
McGlathery described her newborn son to the Alabama newspaper as her “miracle baby.”
Despite not having a nose at birth, Eli was able almost immediately to breathe through his mouth. However, he struggled to catch his breath during feedings, prompting doctors to perform a tracheotomy on the infant.
Although it makes feedings difficult, the strong and resilient mother was the first to ever successfully breastfeed a baby with a tracheotomy at the hospital, according to the Huntsville Times.
McGlathery and her boyfriend, Troy Thompson, also have to keep an extra-close eye on their son, as Eli does not make any noise when he cries because of the trach.
Additionally, Eli has to sleep with a heart monitor, which alerts his parents to when he’s crying.
“It makes it a lot harder,” McGlathery told Today. “You have to stay right nearby him.”
Eli finally went home on March 30, according to the “Eli’s Story” Facebook page, which has been documenting the baby’s journey since his birth.
With their nearly month-old-baby finally at home with them, the family is awaiting on results from tests and scans before they make any long-term decisions about his medical care, according to the GoFundMe.
However, McGlathery told the Huntsville Times she does not want Eli to go through any unnecessary surgeries.
“We think he’s perfect the way he is. Until the day he wants to have a nose, we don’t want to touch him. We have to take it day by day,” she told the Alabama newspaper.
She added during the interview with Today, “When it’s your baby, it doesn’t matter what’s wrong, you love him, regardless.”
McGlathery said she won’t be able to go to work while she cares round-the-clock for her newborn son and set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his medical and travel expenses. For at least the next decade, she estimated he would have to see specialists every three to six months because of his condition.
“He has a long road ahead of him,” she wrote. “We need all the support we can get.”
Her goal initially was to raise $5,000, but less than a month after setting up the page, $20,000 had been donated for Eli’s care as of Thursday morning.
For more information on how to help, visit “Eli’s Medical Fund” GoFundMe here.