A newborn in Alabama was born without a nose - an extremely rare condition known as congenital arhinia - but his mom says she and her husband think their boy Eli is perfect.

Congenital arhinia, in which a baby is born without an external nose, internal nasal cavity or olfactory system that gives us our sense of smell, occurs in about one in 197 million births, experts say.

Still, Eli's mother Brandi McGlathery and father Troy Thompson say they consider him "perfect the way he is."

Brandi says she realized at the moment of birth that something was different about her baby.

"I had been in labor for 23 hours with him," she said. "To be honest I thought I was hallucinating when I noticed that he didn't have a nose."

Doctors in the delivery room, who at first hadn't noticed the lack of a nose in the chaos of Eli's delivery, quickly moved the infant to intensive care, even though he was breathing through his mouth as soon as he was born.

He was then transferred to the USA Children's & Women's Hospital in Mobile, where surgeons performed a tracheotomy, necessary because although the infant can breathe through his mouth, he would not be able to do so while breastfeeding.

Eli has been at home with his parents for the last month, since his March 4 birth, and they are learning how to take care of him. The baby's tracheotomy must be cleaned and suctioned out every day to guard against infections.

The parents have started a Facebook page, Eli's Story, which quickly attained more than 60,000 likes, with comments of "precious" and "a blessing" coming from around the world.

The page has been liked and commented on from New Zealand, Ireland, Brazil, Canada, England and a number of other countries.

A Gofundme.com account opened to help with Eli's medical expenses has raised over $35,000.

Insurance will probably cover the tracheotomy, but future medical expenses are a concern, the parents say.

"This condition is so rare, they don't know what treatments work and they are skeptical of reconstruction surgery because it's 'cosmetic,'" McGlathery said.

Only about 40 people in the world are thought to have been born with the condition.

It is thought doctors may eventually be able to create nasal passages inside Eli's skull, allowing him to breath though a cosmetically created nose, although there are some other health concerns, including a soft palate that is not fully developed and a pituitary gland that is not functioning properly.

The parents say they're just happy to have their infant son home and with them.

"Troy says all the time, 'I think it gives him character,'" McGlathery said. "We think he is perfect as is."

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