NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A South Florida family has not lost sight of just how incredible their son’s survival is after he was born with multiple congenital heart conditions and heterotaxy syndrome.
Nesanel Estrin, whose family calls him Nissi, only has half a heart and his internal organs were all in the wrong places when he was born.
His parents, Rabbi Ellie Estrin and Chaya Estrin, were told that Nissi likely wouldn't survive child birth and even if he did, he’d need open heart surgery within six hours.
Nissi recently turned 3, which is a big deal for him and his family.
The Estrin family was living in Seattle when they got pregnant with their beloved son.
But the baby, they would eventually learn, had a series of health issues, including potentially fatal heart conditions.
But, against all odds, Nissi was born on Feb. 8, 2016, and, within a week, had his first open heart surgery.
While he was recovering in the hospital, his parents got a phone call from a doctor who said chest compressions were being done on their baby boy, who doctors believed had gone into cardiac arrest.
Nissi was kept alive by machines for weeks, but he pulled through.
Since then, he's had two more open heart surgeries and the family has moved to South Florida.
"It would have been very easy to say, 'Enough is enough,'" said Dr. Anthony Rossi, of Nicklaus Children's Hospital.
Rossi, the director of cardiology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, now oversees Nissi's care and said his survival is astounding.
"The risks were so high that it would be easy to have said, 'We've kind of done everything that we can. We've got to let nature take its course,'" he said.
So on Monday, the family celebrated Nissi's birthday, surrounded by their friends and loved ones, just thankful to see another year.
"Look where we could have been, look at this journey -- all of the challenges and all of the struggles, they're really non-existent," Chaya Estrin said.
Nissi has one more surgery planned for this summer, and it is actually the least risky of all of the surgeries he's had so far.
His doctors say he will need help from his family throughout his life. He is slightly developmentally delayed and needs a walker and gastrointestinal tube, but he is expected to continue thriving in spite of the odds against him and live a healthy life.