India Lipton and Shirley Lesser know "Sir Dylan Eli the Dragon-Slayer" is a mouthful to call a 23-month-old.
But they say their son, born 11 weeks premature and a mere 3 pounds, 3 ounces, has earned the nickname they've given him by winning battles against multiple major ailments and infections.
"The doctor told us that this kid may not be able to breathe on his own," Lipton said in an interview. "He may not be able to eat, think, or walk."
Dylan Eli Lipton-Lesser astounded doctors in the months following his February 2012 birth, prevailing over brain bleeds, cysts and 15 brain surgeries to date. As he grew older, Dylan's mothers began to suspect he might have developed hearing problems, too.
After months of tests, the Richmond, Va. toddler was finally fitted with hearing aids in December 2013. Now, a YouTube video capturing Dylan's joy at being able to hear clearly is starting to take over the Web. The video, recorded last month, had racked up more than 84,000 views as of Monday afternoon.
"I'm so glad that we're able to share Dylan's joy with everyone," said Lipton, who has also shared the child's story on Facebook. "Look how inspiring this kid is. If he can smile and laugh after going through so much, then you can smile too. That's all we wanted, is for everyone to have that moment."
Lipton said while his doctors were impressed that he didn’t fuss when the hearing aids were put in, the bubbly attitude shown in the video reflects her young son’s joyful nature.
"It really is phenomenal, his ability to always want to smile instead of cry,” she said. “He has this special sparkle, that's really just who he is.”
With Dylan's second birthday coming up on Valentine's Day, his parents are hoping to find the doctor who told them a serious brain bleed would leave their son “severely disabled” and show him the progress Dylan has made so far.
“We hadn't even had a chance to hold Dylan yet when we heard the news,” said Lipton, who gave birth to Dylan. “But we took a deep breath and we told him: 'You know, in two years, we're going to bring Dylan back. And he's going to shake your hand and thank you for saving his life.’”
Though his growth is “delayed compared to his peers,” Lipton said their son is “doing amazingly well,” standing with the help of a walker and even playing piano.
“He's doing so well, and he's already climbing everywhere,” Lipton said. “By this time next year, I expect he'll be running all over the place."