When a baby named Francis William Azize was born 17 weeks prematurely in January, he weighed just 1lb 9oz.
His parents weren’t given much hope, as he had just a 15% chance of survival.
They were told the numbers were stacked against them, but they didn’t want to give up the fight.
In a moving short film, shared to Facebook, mum Maureen Azize the family said that nurses looking after Francis suggested the family drew something colourful for him on the whiteboard in his hospital room – so they chose to drew Finding Nemo characters, to make it feel more like home.
Then, Maureen’s brother sent them a TED Talk by Pixar’s Andrew Stanton – the creator of Finding Nemo and director of the upcoming sequel, Finding Dory.
In it, he explained how he was born prematurely, and doctors had told his parents that he wasn’t going to live.
But everyone kept fighting for him, and he did.
“I was in the hospital for months,” Andrew said. “But I lived. And whatever I did, I wanted to be worthy of the second chance I was given.”
Just a month later, the same brother that sent the TED Talk called Maureen and revealed he’d randomly bumped into Andrew on the plane and told him Francis’ story.
And – prepare to well up – Andrew was so touched he decided to draw Dory on a piece of paper, and sent a note to little Francis, that featured Dory’s infamous catchphrase:
“To Francis William, just keep swimming!”
As the film progresses, we see tiny baby Francis getting bigger, healthier and stronger.
After 118 days in the hospital, against the odds, he survived, too.
He just kept swimming.
Maureen told ABC News:
“It was inspiring to hear how thankful [Andrew] was to his parents for giving him a chance. It confirmed it was the right choice to give Francis a chance.”
“Developmentally, [Francis is] right on track of where we want him to be.
“He’s currently in the process of wanting to walk. He’s not there yet, but he wants to be.
“I think one of the doctors said, ‘You have to have spunk to be born at 23 weeks,’ and I think that described him very well … he’s just a real little gift.”
Honestly, you really just need to watch the video. No words can do it justice. It’s a real tearjerker, so remove any non-waterpoof mascara in advance (seriously)…
Andrew also shared the video on Twitter, and was understandably moved by the affect he had on Francis’ family…
Wait… what? What’s that sound? Oh, that’s just us sobbing uncontrollably in front of our computer screens…
Such an emotional story, with such a happy ending ? #GoFrancis!
Images: Facebook/Azize Family/TED Talks