Premature baby Francis William came out 17 weeks early. At 23 weeks old, he weighed less than 2 pounds with a poor and underdeveloped immune system. Doctors have told Maureen and Jeffrey Azize, Francis William’s parents, that their premature baby only got 15% chance of surviving.
It was a horrible news for first time parents but Maureen and Jeffrey resolved that they have two choices: to do everything or do nothing. They chose to fight for little Francis William and went into a unmistakable journey of a lifetime of saving a dear child’s life.
Francis William had tubes and was living in the NICU, constantly being monitored by doctors and nurses. Weeks and months passed but his parents cling to their faith, asked for prayers from others and never left his side.
In the NICU, one of the family’s primary nurses gave them a stack of markers and suggested they could draw something bright and colorful on the whiteboard and make it feel more like home. So, they started giving Francis William’s whiteboard a “Finding Nemo” theme that instantly gave a playful and light atmosphere.
One day, Charles Kinnane, Maureen’s brother, sent the couple a video of Andrew Stanton’s TED talk. Stanton is the director and writer of “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory.” The couple did not really expected anything from Staton’s talk until he said:
“I was born premature, that I came out much too early, and I wasn’t fully baked. I was very, very sick. When the doctor took a look at this yellow kid with black teeth, he looked straight at my mom and said, ‘He’s not going to live.”
The couple were astonished by what they have learned about Stanton and they knew that no matter the outcome it was never a mistake to fight for little Francis.
The connection grew stronger when Charles sat next to none other than Stanton during a flight. He went ahead and told Stanton about little Francis William and showed him pictures of him. Before they hopped down from the plane, Stanton handed Kinnane a paper that had a Finding Nemo drawing and a note that says, “Just keep swimming.”
After 118 days of living in the hospital, Little Francis finally went home. He bloomed into such healthy boy and is now learning to walk.