Like every expectant mother, Brandi McGlathery was very excited to meet her new baby. But when the doctors handed him over to her, her immediate reaction was one of shock and surprise.
“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!'”, she recounts.
On March 4, Baby Eli was born with complete congenital arhinia, a very rare condition with a 1-in-197 million chance of occurring.
In fact, there have been only 37 cases of the condition worldwide since 1931.
Eli weighed 6 pounds, 8 ounces when he was born. He reportedly started breathing through his mouth straight away.
“Not having a nose didn’t faze him at all.”
Soon after his delivery, Eli was taken to USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile. Still confined in South Baldwin Hospital in Foley, Brandi spent the night calling Eli’s hospital every 45 minutes to check on him.
She was discharged the next day so she could be with the newborn.
The first few days of Eli’s life was spent in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Besides not having a nose, Eli also doesn’t have an olfactory system and nasal passageways. He had a tracheotomy at just 5 days old.
“He has done wonderfully since then,” Brandi said. “He’s been a much happier baby.”
Brandi was able to start breastfeeding him after the procedure. She became the first mother to breastfeed a baby with a trach at the hospital.
While it’s possible to have a plastic surgeon build a nose for Eli, they still need to wait and see.
“His palate didn’t form all the way, so his brain is lower,” she said.
They also need to wait until after puberty before they can build his nasal passageways because his condition directly affects his pituitary gland.
“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.”
Eli was finally able to go home on Monday.
The family still has many years of doctor’s appointments and surgeries to look forward to, so a GoFundMe page has since been set up to raise money for costly medical expenses.
To keep posted on Eli’s progress, a Facebook page has also been created.