Eli Thompson, the toddler who was born without a nose and who melted hearts across the country with his unique story, has died at just two years old.
His father, Jeremy Finch, said that his son was pronounced dead at Springhill Medical Center in Mobile, Alabama on Saturday night.
He had just celebrated his second birthday on March 4, Al.com reported.
Eli was born prematurely without any nasal passages or sinus cavities, a condition called arhinia that is so rare it only affects one in 197 million births. Eli also had to undergo a tracheotomy at only five days old.
Despite the circumstances, the little boy developed a spirited personality and was beloved by everyone who knew him – and even those who didn’t and had merely seen his story on Facebook.
He was ‘very, very bright and happy, always smiling and giving everybody fist bumps,’ Finch told Al.com. Photos of Finch and Eli together show the toddler outstretching his tiny fist to match his dad’s.
Finch said Eli used baby sign language and his favorite sign was ‘cookie.’ Every morning he would mischievously ask for a cookie and 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.’
As uncommon as Eli’s condition was, he got the chance to meet another child with arhinia before he died: two-and-a-half year old Tessa Evans.
Tessa’s mother said: ‘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 was totally taken with Eli and hugged him and stroked his head. Watching Eli gaze up at her was too precious for words.’
Eli’s funeral will be held at the Fountain of Life Church.
See photos below: