Alabama family prepares to welcome home baby born with rare facial condition

An Alabama couple received a shock when their baby was born without a nose in early March. Now, young Eli is happy and healthy while his parents prepare to bring him home from the hospital, reported

Eli Thompson was born March 4 in Foley, Ala. to parents Brandi McGlathery and Troy Thompson. He has complete congenital arhinia, an extremely rare condition with only about 37 cases worldwide.

McGlathery saw her son for the first time when doctors cut the umbilical cord.

"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

She was the first person to notice it, amidst the excitement. Eli had started breathing through his mouth immediately. Not having a nose “didn’t faze him at all,” she told the news website.

Eli was taken to USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Ala. and McGlathery went the next day to be with her baby.

Her doctor went through every test and ultrasound but did not find anything unusual in her records. However, a few things were unusual for this, her second pregnancy after that of her 4-year-old son, Brysen. McGlathery was severely nauseous at 17 weeks and lost 10 pounds in eight days. Doctors prescribed her medication to regain the weight and keep food down and she continued on the medication throughout her pregnancy, she told

During a 3-D ultrasound, the couple commented on Eli’s cute nose, as the imaging, which shows bone, not tissue, showed a raised bit of bone beneath the skin where the nose should be.

McGlathery went into early labor three times and delivered Eli at 37 weeks.

Eli had a tracheotomy at five days old, which has made him a happier baby, his mother told McGlathery must keep an eye on him at all times because he does not make noise when he cries, due to the tracheotomy.

In addition to missing an external nose, Eli was born without a nasal cavity or olfactory system. McGlathery has heard him sneeze, though.

"The first time he did it, we looked at each other and said, 'You heard that, right?'" she told

The chance of being born with congenital arhinia is one in 197 million, McGlathery told the paper. She’s found other mothers with children with the same condition and has started to feel better about his survival.

McGlathery plans to wait on unnecessary facial surgeries until he’s older. Because his palate did not fully form, his brain is lower. Plus, his condition affects his pituitary gland, meaning he’ll have to be past puberty before his nasal passageways can be built.

Eli will go home to Summerdale, Ala., then travel to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Houston and Galveston, Texas to meet with craniofacial specialists.

"We're going to do our best to make sure he's happy," McGlathery told "The rest of him is so cute, sometimes you don't realize he doesn't have a nose."

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