(NEW YORK) — A baby who was born with half of a heart was captured smiling for the first time after his second open-heart surgery.
Theodore “Teddy” Nelson has spent 185 days in the hospital. On Nov. 13, the 6-month-old had his second open heart surgery and on Feb. 6, Teddy finally smirked for his mom and dad.
“Around the second open heart surgery he suffered a stroke,” mom Alexandria Nelson of Buffalo, New York, told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “We weren’t sure the connections were there in the brain to allow a smile to show on his face. It really gave a huge glimmer of hope for the future that he’s able to overcome these obstacles.”
“That’s what the smile meant to us,” she said.
Teddy was born with a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Teddy had his first surgery 15 minutes after birth on Aug. 30, 2019.
The Nelsons travel from New York to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where Teddy is being treated.
Nelson and her husband Michael recorded the moment when Teddy smiled for the first time. The video was viewed 325,000 times after being shared by Birmingham, Alabama, ABC affiliate WBMA-TV.
“His sister was in the room; [Teddy] loves to hear her voice and my husband, he has the special touch,” Nelson said.
Teddy will have a third surgery in weeks to come. Nelson said she’s looking forward to bringing Teddy home for the very first time.
“They call him feisty and we love it,” she said. “Half the time we don’t give him enough credit … he [has] so much determination and fight.”
“I always say, ‘Theodore’s half a heart produces twice the love,"” she added.
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