An Alabama toddler who was born without a nose has died at just 2 years old.
Eli Thompson made headlines two years ago when he was born without a nose due to a rare condition called arhinia, the Daily Mail reported. Several media outlets referred to him as a “miracle baby.”
The boy’s father, Jeremy Finch, said Eli was pronounced dead at a local hospital on June 3. The child had just celebrated his second birthday on March 4, Al.com reported.
Finch took to Facebook to share the unfortunate news:
We lost our little buddy last night. I’ll never be able to make sense of why this happened, and this will hurt deeply for a long time. But I’m so blessed to have had this beautiful boy in my life! He finished his race a lot earlier than we would have liked, but it was God’s time to bring him back home. I’ll forever look forward to seeing him at the gates of Heaven waiting on me to give me another one of his famous fist bumps! I love you little man. Rest in peace with my Father.
Arhinia is a rare disorder that affects 1 in 197 million births, according to the Daily Mail. Those affected by the condition are born without any nasal passages or sinus cavities. Eli, who was born premature, also had to undergo a tracheotomy at just 5 days old.
Still, the boy’s parents said Eli developed a spirited personality, and was beloved by those who knew him. Finch told Al.com his son was “very, very bright and happy, always smiling and giving everybody fist bumps.”
The father recalled when Eli would use baby sign language. His favorite sign was “cookie,” and he would ask for one every morning. Eli even won the “Cookie Monster Award” from his daycare.
“He touched a lot of people’s lives,” Finch said. “A lot of people cared about him.”
Despite the rareness of his condition, Eli was able to meet another child who was also diagnosed with arhinia: 2-and-a-half-year-old Tessa Evans.
“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 said. “Tessa was totally taken with Eli and hugged him and stroked his head. Watching Eli gaze up at her was too precious for words.”