MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Before Eli Thompson was born, his father joked that he hoped he wouldn't pass on his nose to his new son.
But moments after little was born, an air of seriousness — and concern — filled the room.
The baby's mother, Brandi McGlathery, knew immediately that something wasn't right, she told Al.com (http://bit.ly/1CNf7kN).
"I pulled back and said, 'Something's wrong!,'" she said. "And the doctor said, 'No, he's perfectly fine.' Then I shouted, 'He doesn't have a nose!'"
Eli Thompson began breathing through his mouth right away on March 4 at a Mobile, Alabama, hospital, McGlathery said.
Not having a nose "didn't faze him at all," she said.
Eli was born with a rare condition known as complete congenital arhinia, his mother said.
The condition affects fewer than 40 other people around the world, the University of South Alabama Children's & Women's Hospital said in a statement on its Facebook account.
The baby was moved to the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's & Women's Hospital and had a tracheotomy at 5 days old, Brandi McGlathery said.
"Between the nurses here and Ronald McDonald House, everyone has gone above and beyond," she said. "The nurse from the pod comes to check on her 'boyfriend.' She got attached to him."
Eli will have to grow past puberty before his nasal passageways could be rebuilt surgically, his mother said. Until then, she said, she wants to spare him any unnecessary facial surgeries.
"We think he's perfect the way he is," she said, nodding toward her sleeping son in his crib.
"Until the day he wants to have a nose, we don't want to touch him. We have to take it day by day."