In 1998 in Altadena, California, a passerby found a newborn buried alive, umbilical chord still attached. The rescuer, Azita Milanian, was out jogging with her dogs and thought she had discovered a dead animal. What she found was a baby boy to be named Matthew “Christian” Whitaker, wrapped in a towel. Azita tried to call 911 but was disconnected multiple times. She was forced to flag down a motorist who contacted the local sheriff. When the deputies arrived they called the ambulance, finding Azita on her knees comforting the baby. It was an extraordinary length of time for the newborn to hang on.
When the ambulance arrived, the baby was taken to the Huntington Memorial Hospital. Matthews temperature had fallen dangerously low, and the doctors reported that his weight likely enabled him to stay alive. One of the nurses remarked that the recovery of Matthew was “really almost a miracle”. The nurses named him “Baby Christian”, a name that has stuck with him since.
Azita would be left to ponder for 2 decades what was to become of the baby. After Matthew was sent to hospital he was adopted. She visited the child in hospital, but after adoption she was informed that she would not be able to continue to see him. Because of the event, Azita Milanian would go on to found the Children of One Planet nonprofit organization to help orphans around the globe. She indicated her frustration at being unable to visit Matthew.
The reunion itself materialized in a very unlikely fashion. The mother of a friend of Matthew wrote to a radio station asking for a 23AndMe DNA kit so Matthew could learn more about his lineage. Because of this information Ryan Seacrest was able to reconnect the orphan and rescuer. Matthew took the test and the story was revealed on the “On Air with Ryan Seacrest Program”. The day that Matthew and Azita were reunited, they went to the trail. While Matthew is described as a natural comedian by nature, his mood turned somber upon visiting the site.
The story has a bizarre number of twists and turns. Azita was set to take the same hiking route she had been taking for 8 years, and due to a series of events she decided to take a different path, finding the newborn. Additionally, on that Saturday night, she had been invited to go out dancing but choose to go running instead. She recounts the story of finding Matthew on the Ryan Seacrest Program:
“I went there and heard a noise and … Tango [the dog] was standing exactly over his head and I was saying, ‘Come on, let’s go! What are you looking at?’ And they wouldn’t move and I’m screaming at them and it was a bunch of bushes and suddenly Christian’s feet came out of the ground in front of my feet and I didn’t know it was his feet … I was standing far away and I’m screaming loud, ‘God what is this? What is this? It’s like a human baby’s feet’ And he started crying and I moved the bushes and I opened the towel and I saw the umbilical cord attached”
Matthew is currently attending the University of Arizona and is hoping to become an entertainment lawyer. He only found out when he was 17 the true story of how he was discovered from his godmother. Though the news was surprising, Matthew stated that it did not really make that much of a difference to his everyday life. According to him, he lived a great life with a great family, and that is what counts. He does not spend time thinking about the person who left him on the trail as a newborn. Matthews godfather, a former law enforcement official, is recently deceased.
Azita broke down upon meeting Matthew, saying that he was exactly how she had imagined. Strongly religious, Azita believes that her faith has been affirmed and that God has brought them together for a purpose. She still knows Matthew as “Christian”. Matthew expressed his gratitude and said that Azita will be in his life forever, offering her an invitation to his graduation. They were reunited on Matthews birthday exactly 20 years from the day he was found.
If you are interested seeing more of Ryan Seacrest’s philanthropy or getting involved, be sure to visit the Ryan Seacrest Foundation for the latest or follow him on Facebook, Twitter (@ryanseacrest), and Instagram.