With the luck that Brandi McGlathery has, she should buy a lottery ticket. Doctors told her that it was a one in 197 million chance that her baby Eli would be born the way he was. Some would argue it was a bad thing, but when you see his face, you’ll soon see that she’s the proud parent of the most precious baby in the whole world.
Everything was normal as far as McGlathery was concerned before her son was born in Foley, Alabama.But on March 4, 2015, Eli Thompson came into the world with one major problem staring his mother in the face.Eli had no nose.
The condition is known as congenital arhinia, and is extremely rare with only about 47 cases being reported so far, according to the National Institutes of Health.Doctors had no idea what to do, and immediately took Eli to a hospital an hour away, and out of the arms of his mother.
McGlathery was as clueless as the doctors, and wasn’t even sure if her baby would live or die.”That entire night, I was scared, alone, & confused,” she wrote on her GoFundMe page. “I called every 15 minutes to ask if my child was still alive.”
Doctors quickly realized the main problem: Eli wouldn’t be able to eat and breathe at the same time. Therefore, he underwent a tracheostomy where an opening is made in the windpipe to allow breathing. Unfortunately, that surgery wouldn’t be even close to the last.
Eli spent weeks in the neonatal intensive-care unit, his mother said, and had to return multiple times due to his condition. But he proved that no nose wasn’t going to bring him down.
As Eli grows, his mothers said he would need to undergo surgeries every year or two for reconstructive surgery until he reaches puberty.But then, something amazing happened. Eli met someone just like him, and it would completely change this planned trajectory.
Two-year-old Tessa Evans was born in Ireland with the same condition as Eli. In June of 2015, Tessa was the first child to undergo surgery that would give her a brand new nose.
The surgery will gradually stretch Tessa’s skin with a prosthesis to fit a 3D-printed nose where her nose should have been. The prosthesis will be replaced every few years so that it grows with her face.And at the end of September of 2015, Eli was approved for the same surgery.
“After a lengthy conversation, many tears, thanks, & hallelujahs, we FINALLY have a game plan set in place for Eli,” McGlathery said in an update on the GoFundMe page. “In January, just 2 months shy of Eli’s first birthday (yes, our baby is already almost 7 months old!), we will travel to London for our first assessment.”
Then, in a completely serendipitous stroke of luck, the two families were able to meet at the beginning of October.Eli’s grandparents had planned a trip to Atlanta to visit relatives, when Eli’s family learned that Tessa’s father had won a trip to the city…the exact same weekend.Seriously, anyone got those odds?
“To get to introduce Tessa to Eli was like a dream come true and it meant the world to us to sit and talk with his family,” Tessa’s mother Gráinne Evans said on Facebook.”Tessa was totally taken with Eli and hugged him and stroked his head. Watching Eli gaze up at her was too precious for words. For them, it was just meeting a new friend; for us, it was so much more!”
In response, McGlathery assured Evans she felt the same way.”I will never be able to thank you for everything you have done & shared with us since Eli was born,” she said on the post. “I felt so alone at first, & you made sure I knew that I was anything but!”With such great news, I’m sure both moms are anxious for the day that baby Eli receives his new nose. But that hasn’t stopped him from being absolutely freaking adorable.
He proves time and time again that having a nose doesn’t mean you can’t have the cutest face on planet Earth.
Like this time when he showed his education goals. Go Wildcats!
Or when he was the most freaking adorable chicken in the known universe.
But most importantly, he and Tessa prove that being different doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful. It just means you have an amazing chance to inspire others through your incredible bravery.