Only On 7: Rapids infant born without trachea has 'will to live'

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis.(WSAW)-- The fight of an 8-month-old Wisconsin Rapids boy has forever changed the lives of those crossing his path.

"I've always thought from the beginning he was here for a reason. Even if he didn't make it this far, he was here for a reason. The reason is to help people because he's truly a miracle," said Jessica Richards, the boy's mother.

Baby Thomas was born without a trachea and is the only one to survive here in the United States. Tracheal Agenesis Floyd Type 2 stops air from reaching his lungs. Only 200 other people in the world have been born with the condition.

His parents, Jessica and Corey Richards, sat down only with NewsChannel 7 on Friday to share their son's story in hopes of helping another family, who may be facing the same situation or a heaviness of their own.

"We started to think about the future and what we would do. We were going to go camping, hockey games everything and then he was born and in a sense [all of those hopes] kind of shattered," explained Jessica about hearing the life-changing diagnosis.

Thomas is now home in Wood County-- recovering after a number of surgeries and spending months at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

"He's breathing straight through his esophagus straight to the branches of his lungs and through his trachea tube," said Jessica.

His parents say everyone who got to know Thomas through his journey said it was his will to live that kept him alive-- and it's that will to live that continues to inspire.

"Thomas is the one doing the healing and -- at any point -- Thomas could have given up," said Jessica.